By Jim EllisDec. 22, 2021 — In a surprising move, three-term Florida US Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) announced that she won’t run for re-election next year, becoming the third member of the Florida delegation to leave the House at the beginning of 2023 in addition to the state gaining a new seat in national reapportionment. Not included in the total is the special election to fill the late Rep. Alcee Hastings’ (D-Delray Beach) South Florida 20th District that will conclude on Jan. 11.
The Murphy move means the Sunshine State will host four open congressional elections next year, three of which lie in the Orlando metro area. In addition to Congresswoman Murphy, Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) in an adjacent district is also leaving the House. She is challenging Sen. Marco Rubio (R). Furthermore, the state’s new 28th District will likely be placed in the Orlando metroplex. The lone non-Orlando area open seat is in the Tampa Bay area as Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) is foregoing re-election to again run for governor.
Rep. Murphy was elected in 2016, defeating then-Rep. John Mica (R) in a 51-49 percent result after the Florida state Supreme Court made the 7th District more Democratic during a mid-decade redistricting order. She averaged 56.5 percent of the vote in her two subsequent re-election campaigns and holds a seat on the powerful Ways & Means Committee.Also, New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) announced Monday that he will not seek a ninth full term in the House. The congressman was first elected in a concurrent 2006 special and general election replacing then-Rep. Bob Menendez (D) who had been appointed to the Senate. At the time, the eastern New Jersey district that borders the Hudson River across from New York City was numbered CD-13. It was changed to number 8 in the 2011 redistricting plan.
Prior to his election to Congress, Sires served in the New Jersey General Assembly and was the body’s speaker from 2002-06. During the 1995-2006 period, he was the mayor of West New York, and concurrently served in the legislature for most of that time. Prior to a 2006 law banning the practice, it was commonplace for New Jersey mayors to simultaneously hold both their municipal position and serve in the legislature.
Expected to run to replace Rep. Sires is attorney Robert J. Menendez, Sen. Menendez’s son. He apparently already has the key local party leaders’ support. The New Jersey redistricting map is not yet complete, so it will be curious to see if the 8th District is substantially changed now that it will be an open seat.
There has been discussion within the state’s politician comprised redistricting commission of making one of the Democratic seats more Republican in order to strengthen the 5th and 11th Districts of Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff/Paramus) and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair/Morristown).
Originally the idea seemed to be pointing toward the Democrats sacrificing Rep. Tom Malinowski’s (D-Rocky Hill) 7th District. With the Albies retirement, the shift may focus toward the new open 8th CD, should they continue along such a redistricting strategic path.
Murphy and Sires are the 19th and 20th House Democrats not seeking re-election. A total of 29 current seats will not have an incumbent in the 2022 campaigns. Adding the new and created open seats coming from reapportionment and redistricting, a grand total of 40 districts will host open US House contests next year, in addition to the FL-20 special election.