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District 18

Incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, 58, is one of the longest-serving members of Congress from Florida, first elected in 1989. She currently serves as the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she is a strong advocate for Israel and a foe of the Cuban dictatorship.

Her opponent, Rolando A. Barciella, 53, is a Democrat making his first run for office. He says saving Social Security and making sure it is fiscally sound and well managed is his uppermost priority. He chides Ms. Ros-Lehtinen for ``being part of the problem'' and going along with what he called the GOP's negative agenda. He also criticizes the trade embargo against Cuba and believes ``it's time to try something else.''

Our choice is Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, who despite more than two decades in Congress has not worn out her welcome with voters in her district.

A reliable conservative on most issues -- she voted No on the administration's stimulus plan -- Ms. Ros-Lehtinen does not share the ideological rigidity of some GOP colleagues. She has supported comprehensive immigration reform and makes it clear she does not agree with Arizona's immigration law. She favors increasing the cap on oil-spill liability, which many Republicans do not support.

The same holds true on the social agenda. Although she is strongly anti-abortion, she is also a nationally-recognized advocate for equal rights for gays and lesbians.

For U.S. House of Representatives, District 18, The Miami Herald recommends ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN.

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