Top moderate becomes latest House Democrat to announce retirement at end of current term

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Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, a leader among the moderate wing of House Democrats, announced Monday that she will retire after her current term and not seek reelection in 2022.

“I’ve decided not to seek another term in Congress. Serving Central Florida has been the honor of my life, but it’s also been incredibly challenging for my family and me,” the Florida Democrat wrote on Twitter.

“This was not an easy decision, but it is the right decision,” Murphy said. 

Murphy becomes the 21st Democrat to retire or run for a different office in the 2022 midterm elections, as the party tries to defend its razor-thin majority in the House amid historically unfavorable headwinds and a rough political climate. Twelve House Republicans are retiring or seeking another office next year.

The congresswoman’s announcement came one day after moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., struck a major blow to President Biden and congressional Democrats by saying he could not support the party’s nearly $2 trillion social spending bill.

Responding to Murphy’s news, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the reelection arm of the House GOP, argued that “between Build Back Better collapsing and an unmitigated retirement crisis, this is truly Democrats’ nightmare before Christmas.”

In 2016, Murphy flipped a Republican-held battleground district in central Florida in and around Orlando. She edged GOP Rep. John Mica by three points to win a seat in Congress. Murphy easily won reelection in 2018 by 15 points and in 2020 by 12 points.

While her district’s boundaries will likely change during a once-in-a-decade redistricting process that in Florida is dominated by Republicans, Murphy said her retirement decision was not based on her own 2022 reelection chances. She highlighted in her video announcement that her move was not based on any “fear of losing reelection.”

Murphy currently as serves as co-chair of the moderate Democratic caucus known as the Blue Dog Coalition. 

Rep. Stephanie Murphy speaks during the Problem Solvers Caucus press conference in the Capitol on Feb. 11, 2020.
(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Murphy, who made history as the first Vietnamese-American woman to serve in Congress, also serves in the Democrats’ House leadership as a chief deputy whip.

“My journey, from fleeing a violent communist regime, to being rescued by the U.S. Navy, to working in national security at the Pentagon, and now as the first Vietnamese-American congresswoman, is a journey that could have only happened here in America,” Murphy spotlighted in her statement.

Murphy earlier this year mulled making a bid for the 2022 Democratic Senate nomination to challenge Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. She stood down after fellow Florida Democrat Rep. Val Demings jumped into the race.

While retiring from the House at the end of next year, Murphy did not rule out a future political run.

“I know now that I’m not done with public service,” she emphasized in her statement. “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 said in a statement that “Murphy is a valued Member of Congress, whose leadership has advanced jobs, security and opportunity” both locally and nationally. 

“As an immigrant and the first Vietnamese-American woman to serve in the Congress, she has been an inspiration to young women in America,” Pelosi said.

Fox News’ Jason Donner contributed to this story

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