Ros-Lehtinen announced she would not seek re-election last month, creating an opening for Democrats to pick up a seat in a district that voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
But Regalado, who calls herself a “compassionate Republican,” told the Miami Herald she thinks she is the type of moderate who could hold onto the district.
“I think the majority of people believe it will be better to have a Republican in the room than a Democrat out in the hall,” Regalado said.
Regalado campaigned for Democratic candidate Alex Sink for governor in 2010 as opposed to Republican Gov. Rick Scott, and neither she nor her father voted for President Donald Trump.
“I’m a moderate voice and I’m not shying away from that,” she said.
Regalado is the daughter of Miami Mayor Tomas Pedro Regalado and has two children on the autism spectrum.
“We need to find jobs and opportunities for autistic adults after the age of 22, and I can do that work in Washington,” she said.
So far Miami Dade Commissioner Bruno Barriero is the only other Republican to announce his candidacy, but Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera is also a potential candidate.
Democratic candidates include businessman Scott Fuhrman, who lost to Ros-Lehtinen last year, Michael A. Hepburn, Mark Anthony Person, and Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez.