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Citing ‘personal sacrifice,’ Rep. Stephanie Murphy won’t run again

Florida Democrat serves on committee investigating Jan. 6 attack

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., will not seek a fourth term next year.
Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., will not seek a fourth term next year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Florida Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, the first woman born in Vietnam to serve in Congress and the first minority woman to co-chair the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, said Monday she would not seek a fourth term in 2022. 

“These last few years have been some of the most rewarding moments of my life, but also some of the most challenging,” she said in a video announcing her decision. “Public service is not without personal sacrifice. And as a mom of two young children, my time away from them has been hard. … This was not an easy decision, but it was the right decision.”

Murphy, who first won election to Florida’s 7th District by defeating GOP then-Rep. John Mica in 2016, could have been facing a Democratic primary battle under new congressional lines being drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature.

Florida has not finished redistricting, but state House Republicans drafted a plan that would move Orlando communities with a high Black population into her district from retiring Democratic Rep. Val B. Demings‘. They also cut Democrat-leaning Seminole County into nearby Republican Rep. Michael Waltz‘s district.

She had also considered a bid for the U.S. Senate, but ultimately did not seek to challenge Demings, who is seeking to challenge GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.  

On Capitol Hill, Murphy has developed a reputation for working across party lines. She serves on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee and the Armed Services panel. She also currently has a spot on the the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol.

Born in Vietnam, Murphy has cultivated a reputation as a budget-conscious Democrat, though she voted in November in favor of Democrats’ major spending and tax measure.

“While I continue to have reservations about the overall size of the legislation — and concerns about certain policy provisions that are extraneous or unwise — I believe there are too many badly-needed investments in this bill not to advance it in the legislative process,” she said in a statement about that vote.  “I will work with my Senate colleagues to improve this bill, and I hope to vote on — and enact — a more streamlined version of the bill once it returns from the Senate.

“There is a lot of good in this bill, and as a pragmatic Democrat who wants to deliver for my constituents, I am never one to let the perfect become the enemy of the good.”

Though many factors go into a lawmaker’s decision to retire from Capitol Hill, national Republican political operatives said that Murphy’s announcement was evidence that the GOP is in a good position to win control of the House in next year’s midterm elections. More than 20 House Democrats have said they would not seek reelection next year. 

“Between Build Back Better collapsing and an unmitigated retirement crisis, this is truly Democrats’ nightmare before Christmas,” said Camille Gallo, a spokesperson for the House GOP campaign arm, in a statement. 

Murphy was 6 months old when her parents fled with her and her brother from communist Vietnam to a refugee camp in Malaysia, and then moved on to settle in the United States.

According to Murphy, being an immigrant isn’t the most important part of her story. What affected her more, she says, is how her parents worked to ensure she would have a better life. Her father labored at a power plant and her mother manufactured tiles before becoming a tailor. They both held second jobs, and Murphy recalled being taken along when they cleaned office buildings.

Murphy was a Defense Department analyst in the George W. Bush administration, and she invokes that service as an example of how she can work with those of different ideologies.

She reported holding just under $2 million in her reelection campaign as of Sept. 30, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission

She said in her video that she planned to serve the remainder of her term.

“Now I still have a job to do and will work just as hard this next year as I have the last five,” she said. “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.”

Michael Macagnone contributed to this report.

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