Chip LaMarca won’t run for Congress. Decision leaves Republicans without top-tier candidate to succeed Ted Deutch

State Rep. Chip LaMarca said Monday he would not seek the Republican nomination for a South Florida congressional seat, a decision that leaves his party without a top-tier candidate for the district that incumbent Democrat Ted Deutch is vacating.

LaMarca said he would instead be a candidate for re-election in the northeast Broward district he represents in the state House of Representatives.

Advertisement

Part of the reason, he said via text message, is that Washington, D.C., has changed immensely since he first got involved in politics two decades ago and thought that someday he’d want to serve in Congress.

Years ago, LaMarca said, he even consulted with the late former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, a Fort Lauderdale Republican, about the idea of running for Congress at some point.

Advertisement

“He was one of the reasons that I got involved in the political process back in 2000 and I always thought that I could make a difference following in his footsteps…. Many things have changed since Congressman Shaw served in Washington, and that was the biggest factor in our decision.

“For that reason, we have decided that my place is always where I can work together to actually get things done for the people I serve — and sadly that is not in Washington, D.C., anytime soon. My passion is to finish the goals that we set, four short years ago, and that is to continue to serve in the Florida House.”

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, who has held the seat since 2010, isn’t seeking re-election. He’s leaving office Oct. 1 to become chairman of the American Jewish Committee.

Shortly after Deutch’s Feb. 28 announcement, and again in March, LaMarca said he and his wife Eileen were considering whether he would run.

Publicly, Republican leaders have asserted that they think they can pick up the seat.

But the leading potential candidates, current and former elected officials, have declined to run, leaving the party with lesser-known candidates. Besides LaMarca, former state Rep. George Moraitis and Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer decided against running.

Democrats have more than one seasoned candidate. Jared Moskowitz, a former state representative and former Parkland city commissioner who is currently an appointed Broward County commissioner, is seeking the nomination, as is Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Ben Sorensen.

Other candidates, including some who’ve never held elected office, have said they’re contemplating running as Democrats.

Advertisement

Last week, the Florida Legislature approved and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a map of reconfigured congressional districts to reflect population changes uncovered in the 2020 census.

The district in question, now called District 23, is similar to the current one. It takes in northern Broward and much of the coast extending south through most of Fort Lauderdale. It would take in a larger share of southern Palm Beach County than currently.

It leans Democratic. In 2020, 56% of the new District 23 voters went for President Joe Biden, according to an analysis of voting data by Matt Isbell of the data mapping firm MCI Maps.

LaMarca was elected to the state House in 2018 after two terms on the Broward County Commission, where he was the only Republican. Previously he served as a Lighthouse Point city commissioner and as chairman of the Broward Republican Party.

His East Broward district is one of the few bright spots for Republicans in the overwhelmingly Democratic county. He’s the only Republican state legislator whose district lies entirely within Broward County.

The reconfigured 100th District, where LaMarca is seeking re-election, also changed to reflect population shifts, and remains the most Republican legislative district in the county. An MCI Maps analysis shows its voters broke 49.9% for Biden in 2020 and 49.3% for former President Donald Trump.

Advertisement

“As one of the very few members of the Florida House who has had the opportunity to serve at the city and county level prior to entering the state legislative process, I feel that it is important that we work together to complete the task at hand and that task is making Florida the best place to live, work, play and raise a family. I will work to give every individual and family in Florida the best chance to succeed, and that is the promise that I made years ago,” LaMarca said.

Anthony Man can be reached at aman@sunsentinel.com or on Twitter @browardpolitics