MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Ted Deutch, who has served in Congress since 2010, will not run for re-election this year and will resign his House seat before the end of his term so he can take a leadership position with a major Jewish American advocacy group, CBS Miami has learned.
Deutch confirmed he was leaving in a press release issued after CBS Miami reported the news.
"After serving the public for more than 15 years, I have decided I will not seek re-election this November," Deutch wrote. "Public service was instilled in me by my father who earned a Purple Heart in the Battle of the Bulge, and it has been a tremendous privilege to serve the people of Palm Beach and Broward Counties in Congress since 2010. I am incredibly grateful to my constituents for their support and friendship."
The decision by Deutch, who represents parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, will come as a surprise to many and could set off a scramble among Democrats to replace him. A popular and affable leader in the House, Deutch easily won his last three elections with 60 percent of the vote.
Following the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in 2018, Deutch, whose district includes the school, became a national figure advocating for tougher gun regulations. A frequent critic of the National Rifle Association he recently celebrated the NRA's financial distress, noting "the NRA has gone from being morally bankrupt to being financially bankrupt."
In Congress, Deutch serves on the Judiciary Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and is chairman of the House Ethics Committee. Deutch is also the co-chair of the Bipartisan Anti-Semitism Task Force.
Deutch is leaving Congress to become the CEO of the American Jewish Committee.
In his press release Deutch cited his work on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"For me, this foreign policy work has been a natural continuation of my deep ties to the American Jewish community and my long-standing advocacy on behalf of the U.S.-Israel relationship," he noted. "Beyond foreign policy, we have also seen an unprecedented rise in antisemitism in our own country and abroad, and I have been at the forefront of the Congressional response as the founding co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism.
"This critical work, and the opportunity to do it on a global scale, is why I am announcing that I will not be running for re-election to Congress as I have accepted an offer to serve as the next Chief Executive Officer of the American Jewish Committee," he added.
According to its website, the American Jewish Committee "is the leading global Jewish advocacy organization. From city halls to Capitol Hill, at the UN and in world capitals, AJC works to impact policy and opinion on some of the most important issues facing the Jewish people."
In recent years the group has focused attention on the rise of antisemitism around the world. The group touts offices throughout the United States as well as Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Israel.
Ironically, Deutch was first elected to Congress in a special election after Robert Wexler resigned to take a position with the Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace.
The timing is not clear of when Deutch will resign from Congress to join the AJC.
With Democrats likely to lose control of Congress in November, the 55-year-old Deutch becomes the 31st Democrat to give up their House seat this year.
Depending on the timing of when he formally resigns, his departure will leave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a razor thin majority in the House.
The race to replace Deutch in Congressional District 22 could be a bruising battle. The district currently runs from Fort Lauderdale up the coast to Boca Raton and goes as far west as Coral Springs. The new Congressional maps have not been finalized by the Legislature, but the district is still expected to favor Democrats.
The list of possible Democratic candidates to replace Deutch includes former State Representative Jared Moscowitz, who most recently served as the state's emergency management director; Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis; state senators Gary Farmer and Tina Polsky, whose districts overlap with different portions of Deutch's seat; and Broward County Commissioner Mark Bogen, who represents north Broward.
Confident they will take back the House this election cycle, Republicans might test just how big a year they could have by seriously challenging the Democrats for the open seat.
Julia Friedland, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, issued a statement: "Good choice on retirement, Ted Deutch. Don't worry – you'll be joined by more of your Democrat friends soon enough!"
The qualifying period for candidates to announce they are entering the race ends June 17. The primary is August 23, and the general election is November 8.
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