Wolfson Archive YouTube Channel video: On what was a Special Election night in August of 1989, WTVJ reporter Ileana Bravo reports on the historic occasion of Florida state Senator Ileana Ros-Lehtinen winning a bruising election for the then-Miami Beach based congressional seat of Claude Pepper, who had died on May 30th at the age of 88, the oldest menber of Congress. She became the first Cuban-American ever elected to Congress and first Hispanic woman elected to the U.S. House. Uploaded July 11, 2013. http://youtu.be/jeC0ZwuB4e0
Future Florida governor Jeb Bush is rather obvious in the news clip, but who else do you recognize? (Suggested title in my YouTube inbox was "Happy Birthday, Madame Congresswoman!" due to her upcoming birthday on July 15th.)
The other irony of this night, apparent to folks like me who grew-up in South Florida -but then living and working in Washington, D.C., and who knew people on Pepper's staff on The Hill- was that for many campaign cycles in the 1970's, the Republican who ran against longtime incumbent and Democratic icon Pepper was a Cuban-American businessman named Evelio Estrella, who was perhaps most noteworthy for refusing to do any campaigning in English in what was then FL-14, to the great astonishment of nearly everyone who was not Cuban-American, including the local and national news media.
Okay, so that happens once, you think.
Maybe there are no good candidates available and you have to field someone, even if a sacrificial lamb.
But Estrella ran enthusiastically several times!
Now THAT was Miami in the '70's!
Ros-Lehtinen is the current Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, just as the late Dante Fascell was, who represented Miami in Congress and whose CD extended south down to Key West.
I saw much of him over the years after I first moved to Washington in 1988 and became a regular presence at the full committee hearings as well as the European Subcommittee ones in the Rayburn Building, becoming very friendly with several members and the professional staff.
(Sometimes I'd even have lunch back with some friends there in the TV room while they watched either CNN or soap operas.)
That lasted until the GOP takeover in 1994, at which point Lee Hamilton had already succeeded Facell as Chair after he retired and didn't seek re-election in November of 1993.
As I've mentioned previously here on the blog, at various points while I was at IU, Lee Hamilton had been my congressman in Bloomington.