John Mica Re-Elected to Congress Without a Single Vote

No Vote Necessary (David Broder, WaPo)

John Mica has pulled off a feat many of us would have thought impossible. He has been elected to Congress without ever having his name on the ballot this year. His story says a lot about what has happened to the House of Representatives, the part of the federal government designed to be closest to the people, but one that has become more like an American House of Lords.

I heard about Mica from Russ Freeburg, a retired Chicago Tribune political reporter who now lives in Mica’s Florida district. When Freeburg and his wife went to vote, he noticed something missing. His e-mail tells the story: “I pointed out to an election official at our polling place that there was no House race on the ballot, even though congressmen and women were up every two years. She immediately called the Volusia County supervisor of elections for an explanation. “While she was on the phone . . . I was informed that my congressman, John Mica, was unopposed. I said, ‘I knew that, but shouldn’t his name be on the ballot, with a line below it for a write-in candidate?’ That seemed traditional to me. I asked whether Mica didn’t need to get at least one registered vote somewhere so he could be returned to Washington as an ‘elected official’ to serve another two years. The answer came back over the phone that Mica had been ‘automatically reinstated in Washington.’ “Well, I covered a lot of politics in Chicago and Washington and elsewhere, but that phrase was new to me. . . . Mica wasn’t even listed among the Florida House winners in the Orlando Sentinel the day after the election. It is like he no longer exists and is some sort of ‘stealth’ person representing his district in Washington. . . . I like Mica. He is a good congressman. But I thought people running for office had to be on the ballot, if for no other reason than an official stamp that his office and his district exist.”‘

Not so, it turns out. Mica, a 61-year-old, six-term Republican House member from Winter Park, Fla., was the beneficiary of a venerable Florida law saying that if you are unopposed and no one has filed notice of a write-in campaign against you, your name doesn’t appear on the ballot. Since Mica had no primary opponent, his constituents never encountered his name at any point this year.

Very odd indeed.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004, Congress
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. McGehee says:

    As far as I’m concerned, if an elected official that highly placed isn’t on the ballot, he isn’t elected. If the Florida Legislature won’t fix it, I do believe Congress can pass a law requiring that an unopposed candidate for Congress be on the November ballot with or without an opponent, or he/she won’t be seated when Congress reconvenes.

  2. Paul says:

    heh- Using Howard Dean’s logic, not a single person voted against him so he should be president.

  3. Tig says:

    Wow! seriously!

  4. Read My Lips says:

    At least there was not any problem with hangin’ chads
    It seems that hangin’ chads are not the only thing strange ’bout ‘lections in Florida. Nope, seems in Florida, it is entirely possible to be elected to office even though not a single vote was cast for you. Yep, you…

  5. Anjin-San says:

    I suspect that re-election rates for incumbent congressional representatives rivial that for “elected” officials in communist countries.

    Non defense discresionary spending has soared over the last 4 years in a time of record deficits. Meanwhile cops are getting laid off, firehouses and hospitals are closing and a lot of kids who want to participate in band or sports are being told “tough luck”.

    Clearly congress is not really accountable to the people they supposedy represent.

  6. LJD says:

    That reminds me of a quote I once saw:

    “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”

    -Karl Marx

    Unless the oppressed are so repressed as to have no representatives to represent their opression…
    Now say that ten times fast.

  7. McGehee says:

    I suspect that re-election rates for incumbent congressional representatives rivial that for “elected” officials in communist countries.

    Don’t “suspect.” Research. Ever heard of Google®?