Chip LaMarca to seek third term in House, not running for Congress

Chip LaMarca
LaMarca is the only Republican state lawmaker whose district is entirely contained within blue Broward County.

Republican state Rep. Chip LaMarca of Lighthouse Point has decided not to pursue the congressional seat that U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton is vacating, and will instead seek a third term in the Florida House.

LaMarca, the only Republican state lawmaker whose district is entirely contained within blue Broward County, had been mulling a possible run for Congress. He pondered the move after Deutch upended the South Florida political world with his announcement he would not pursue another term representing the district that straddles Broward and Palm Beach counties. Deutch was first elected to Congress in 2010.

In a statement provided to Florida Politics late Monday, LaMarca said he decided to remain in the state Legislature.

“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,” LaMarca said. “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.”

Since Deutch announced his plan to retire, three Democratic candidates have announced they would make a run for his seat, which national Republicans have now targeted. Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz was the first major name out of the gate to announce his intention to run for the seat. He is the front-runner in the money race.

Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Ben Sorensen has said he will also seek the Democratic nomination for the seat, as has political newcomer Curtis Calabrese, a former U.S. Navy combat veteran. There is some question of whether Calabrese is eligible to run as a Democrat, however.

Deutch is departing after serving the area labeled Florida’s 22nd Congressional district. But Gov. Ron DeSantis’ congressional map that became law Friday renumbered the district to be Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.

Still, the district remains largely the same politically and geographically. Similar to its previous incarnation, President Joe Biden won the district by 13 points.

Republicans running for the seat include Steven Chess, a retired chiropractor; Republican lawyer Jim Pruden; and Darlene Swaffer, who runs a Medicare brokerage firm in Deerfield Beach.

LaMarca, whose coastal Broward County district has been renumbered to House District 100 in the redistricting process, was first elected to the Lighthouse Point City Commission. He prides himself on coming to Tallahassee via the Broward County Commission, which required him to work across party lines.

“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,” his statement said.

He was among a handful of Republicans who voted against the parental rights measure critics have called the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

“Choosing what’s right over party politics is what your district deserves,” he told Florida Politics as he was mulling a congressional run.

In deciding not to pursue a chance to represent Florida in Washington, LaMarca cited the influence of his inspiration, Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr., and his desire to make a difference as Shaw did in Congress until his retirement in 2007.

“Many things have changed since Congressman Shaw served in Washington and that was the biggest factor in our decision,” LaMarca said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]



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