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.