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Stephanie Murphy, a Leading Centrist, Won’t Seek Reelection

December 20, 2021 by Dan McCue
Stephanie Murphy, a Leading Centrist, Won’t Seek Reelection
Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., will not seek reelection in 2022.

WASHINGTON — Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., among the most prominent of House moderates since flipping a battleground district four years ago, announced Monday she will not seek reelection in 2022.

In a video message to her constituents, Murphy said she decided not to seek a fourth term representing Florida’s 7th Congressional District so that she can spend more time with her family, including her two small children.

“I strongly believe in a citizen Congress, where ordinary citizens run for office in search of duty and service, not in search of a career,” Murphy said in the video. “I never intended my time in Congress to become a career.

“These last few years have been some of the most rewarding moments of my life, but also some of the most challenging,” she continued. “Public service is not without personal sacrifice. And as a mom of two young children, my time away from them has been hard.”

As a result, Murphy said, while not easy, the decision to walk away from Capitol Hill, “was the right decision.”

Murphy is the 22nd incumbent House Democrat to forgo a reelection bid next year. 

Born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Murphy emigrated to the United States with her family in 1979 and grew up in Northern Virginia.

After college — she attended both the College of William and Mary and Georgetown University — she worked as a national security specialist at the Defense Department, as an executive at Sungate Capitol and a business professor at Rollins College.

She made her leap to Congress in 2016 when she defeated incumbent Republican Rep. John Mica in a district that included much of downtown and northern Orlando, as well as the communities of Winter Park, Maitland, Sanford and Altamonte Springs.

Murphy is the first Vietnamese-American woman and the second Vietnamese-American overall — after Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana — to be elected to Congress.

During her tenure on the Hill, Murphy distinguished herself as a pragmatic, fiscally responsible public servant willing to work across the aisle in the spirit of bipartisanship to get things done.

Her talents and drive did not go unnoticed by leadership. She currently serves in House leadership as a chief deputy whip and is also a member of the influential Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. 

She is the first woman of color ever to lead the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition and she is only the second leader in the coalition’s history to serve consecutive terms. 

She is also the first woman to lead Future Forum, an influential group representing the youngest members of the House Democratic caucus, and is one of only about 25 women in history to serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. 

She also currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol and on the Board of Visitors for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. 

On top of all this, Murphy has passed more than 55 measures into law.

“I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished together over these last five years,” Murphy said. “I am most proud that through it all — whether the Democrats were in charge or the Republicans, whether under President Trump or President Biden — I was consistently named one of the most bipartisan and effective members of Congress.”

Earlier this year, Murphy was widely touted as a possible challenger to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is seeking re-election this year. She dropped preliminary planning for the race, however, when Rep. Val Demmings, D-Fla., announced her own Senate bid.

Now that she’s leaving the House, speculation is ripe that she could run against Florida’s other Republican senator, Rick Scott, when he seeks re-election in 2024.

“Several years ago, I departed public service by leaving the Pentagon and moving to Central Florida to start my family. I knew then I wasn’t done with public service, just as I know now I am not done with public service,” Murphy said of such speculation. “I still have a job to do and will work just as hard this next year as I have the last five. And rest assured, after I leave office, I will continue to find ways that I can serve this great nation that has given so much to my family and me.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to word of Murphy’s decision by saying the Florida Democrat is “a valued member of Congress, whose leadership has advanced jobs, security and opportunity in her district, for Florida and across the nation. 

“As an immigrant and the first Vietnamese-American woman to serve in the Congress, she has been an inspiration to young women in America … I join my congressional colleagues in wishing Rep. Murphy and her husband Sean and children the best as they prepare to begin their next chapter together,” she said. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, called Murphy “a respected colleague, a good friend, and an important voice within our Caucus,” and he said he will miss having her in the House next Congress.

“A refugee from Vietnam, Stephanie has inspired so many with her story of overcoming hardship. Her service to our nation at the Defense Department after the September 11 attacks made her a leading voice in our Caucus on national security issues,” he continued. “She also brought great expertise in business and other policy areas to the Congress, and she has served Florida’s Seventh District with great ability.

“As Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition, Stephanie has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure fiscal responsibility has remained a guiding principle in our work,” Hoyer added, noting that she was instrumental in enacting the bipartisan infrastructure law this year and has been an effective member when it comes to building consensus across the aisle.

“We are grateful for her service on the 1/6 Select Committee to ensure there is a full accounting of what happened that day, and to recommend actions to ensure it never happens again,” he said, adding, “I have no doubt that Stephanie will continue to serve our country and lend her talents to the betterment of Floridians and all Americans in the years ahead.”

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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