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RealClearPolitics Politics Nation Blog

 

Blog Home Page --> House -- Florida -- 15

Weldon Steps Down In FL

House Republicans just cannot catch a break. After losing New York Rep. Jim Walsh yesterday, Florida Rep. Dave Weldon will announce his retirement today, Politico's Josh Kraushaar reports, becoming the twenty-fifth Republican to back out of another race this year. That means about one in eight Republican members will not be back in 2009.

Weldon, first elected in 1994, is like Walsh an appropriator, a perch from which he has procured millions of dollars for NASA. Unlike Walsh, Weldon was one of the most conservative voices in Congress, calling for a flat tax, a ban on abortions and increases in defense spending.

The space agency is important to Weldon's district, which includes some of Cape Canaveral at its northern end. Much of Brevard County and some of Osceola County, including Vero Beach, Kissimmee and St. Cloud, vote for Weldon's seat, and the area has seen a booming Latino population in recent years.

Democrats believe they have a chance at winning the seat, though it won't be easy: President Bush won the district by eight and 14 points in 2000 and 2004. A former Brevard County Commissioner, Nancy Higgs, is set to announce her bid shortly. She will have to content with physician Steve Blythe in the Democratic primary. Making the district all the more promising: Weldon outspent his 2006 opponent 9-1, though he managed just a 12-point win.

Weldon and Walsh become the third and fourth Republican members of Appropriations to leave Congress and their plum committee spots. Senator Roger Wicker, appointed to replace Trent Lott, also served on Appropriations, making Republicans looking for a leg up lick their chops at the opportunity to score one of the coveted seats. On the Democratic side, only Rep. Tom Udall, who is running for Senate, will give up his seat.