Florida GOP Rep. Posey abruptly announces retirement

TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) abruptly announced on Friday that he will not seek reelection, after initially planning to run for another term.

Posey’s announcement — if made earlier — could have easily attracted a spirited Republican primary, with politicians from the state’s Space Coast region already eyeing the seat once Posey retired. Florida’s 8th congressional district is a solid Republican seat.

Instead the 76-year-old incumbent’s announcement came shortly after qualifying officially ended and after his hand-picked replacement — former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos — had already quietly jumped into the race.

In a statement posted online, Posey said that he was “looking forward to another spirited campaign for a final term in office. However, earlier this week circumstances beyond my control now require me to suspend my re-election campaign.”

Posey did not elaborate what caused his turnabout. He’s one of roughly two dozen Republican incumbents not returning to the lower chamber next year — all in safe seats — an unusually high number for a party in the majority.

“Without going into a lot of personal details, stars aligned during the past week and Mike decided he was ready for Congress,” Posey said. “I enthusiastically endorse him and will do everything I can to help him get elected.”

Posey, who had been in the Florida Legislature for 18 years prior to running for Congress in 2008, was a supporter of former President Donald Trump and usually stood aligned with the Republican majority. But he recently vote against the foreign aid package supported by Speaker Mike Johnson, and he also opposed reauthorizing a contentious surveillance program.

In his first term in office, Posey tried to pass a bill requiring that future presidential candidates produce a copy of their original birth certificate — a measure sparked by conspiracy theories surrounding President Barack Obama. Posey was ridiculed by late night comics for the move.

While he was in the Legislature, Posey was one of the main sponsors of the legislation that overhauled Florida’s voting system in the aftermath of the chaotic 2000 presidential recount.

Haridopolos — a former legislator turned lobbyist who served a two-year term as Senate president starting in 2010 — is one of three Republicans who qualified for the seat. But he will enter the contest with a likely advantage. Several top Florida Republicans — including Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis — have already endorsed Haridopolos.