Florida Republicans: Nominating Lagoa could clinch state for Trump
Top GOP leaders in the nation’s largest swing state say the Cuban-American federal judge could win Hispanic votes and shield vulnerable members of Congress.
Leading Florida Republican politiciansare launching an all-out effort to convince President Donald Trump to nominate federal Judge Barbara Lagoa to the U.S. Supreme Court — a move they say would boost his reelection chances in the must-win swing state.
The biggest names in the Florida GOP are working behind the scenes to advocate for Lagoa: U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott have sprung into action, along with Gov. Ron DeSantis, Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida campaign director Susie Wiles and the president’s former impeachment defense lawyer, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, according to interviews with a dozen Republicans familiar with the effort.
The Republicans are said to be making the case that the longtime judge and devout Catholic has the legal chops to do the job and the conservative background to appease the GOP base, these people said.
But it’s Lagoa’s background as a Florida Cuban-American that could have the most saliencefor Trump. His reelection hinges on the too-close-to-call battleground state, where his campaign has made outreach to Hispanic voters atop issue, worryingsome Democrats.
“If the president picks Barbara Lagoa, they will be dancing salsa with joy in Hialeah well past November,” said Gaetz, referring to Lagoa’s home town, a blue-collar majority Cuban-American city that borders Miami and leans Republican.
Lagoa, a 52-year-old Columbia Law School graduate and mother of three children, emerged this weekend as a leading contender to take the Supreme Court seat held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the liberal stalwart who died Friday at the age of 87.
Lagoa is no lock for the post, however. She’s a relative unknown compared to the favorite of Washington’s conservative establishment anti-abortion groups, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who became a darling of the religious right after her bruising federal confirmation fight in 2017. Barrett and Lagoa are both high on the president’s short list for the post, officials with knowledge of the process told POLITICO.
In contrast, Lagoa’s views on abortion are little known. She had no high-profile rulings on the matter in the nearly 500 decisions she wrote as a state appeals court judge or in other decisions during her brief time on the Florida Supreme Court justice and, since late last year, a judge on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
However, when she was vetted for her federal judgeship, she told the Senate she considered Roe v. Wade the “binding precedent of the Supreme Court“ and “settled law“ — echoing phrases used by Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh when their nominations were being vetted.