WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — In a political surprise, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., will not run for re-election this fall. The Parkland tragedy, he said Monday, defined what it means to serve. Global threats define the work he will face next.
The district covers southern Palm Beach County and part of Broward County. It is considered a safe Democratic seat, but after a dozen years in Congress, Deutch has a new job waiting. He calls it a continuation of his life's work.
"Defending the global Jewish community, standing up for Israel's rightful place in the world, defending Democratic values," Deutch said. "It is who I am, what I care about."
In early October, at the end of the current congressional term, Deutch will become CEO of the American Jewish Committee, an advocacy group with worldwide reach. His congressional resume includes chairing the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and global counterterrorism. A new job awaits, but familiar challenges.
"The threat to the Jewish community and rising anti-Semitism are real and the AJC plays a really critical role in pushing back and defending the Jewish community both here and around the world and stopping the spread of terror throughout the Middle East and the world," Deutch said.
Iran's resurgent nuclear weapons ambitions will be another key focus as Deutch gets set to lead the AJC.
"Iran is an issue I have worked on trying to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons," he noted.
By one count, Deutch is one of 31 Democrats in the House who will not seek re-election this fall.
Republicans are gleeful and say Democrats, in general, are in retreat ahead of midterm elections.
"This seat is going to be held by a Democrat after I leave it, but I'm not running away from Congress," Deutch replied. "That's not something I would ever do. I'm running, if that is the term, to something else."
Deutch reflected on his work on behalf of those fighting for change after the massacre that claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
"I stood up for the families, the survivors, the young people who built a political movement coming out of Parkland," Deutch concluded. "That's what it means to be a representative."