Rep. John Mica (R)
Elected: 1992, 9th term.
Born: Jan. 27, 1943, Binghamton, NY .
Home: Winter Park.
Education: Miami-Dade Commun. Col., A.A. 1965, U. of FL, B.A. 1967.
Family: Married (Patricia); 2 children.
Elected office: FL House of Reps., 1976–80.
Professional Career: Exec. dir., Palm Beach & Orange Cnty. Govt. Charter Study Commissions, 1970–74; Pres., MK Development, 1975–92; A.A., U.S. Sen. Paula Hawkins, 1981–85; Partner, Mica, Dudinsky & Assoc., 1985–92.
The congressman from the 7th District is John Mica, a Republican first elected in 1992. Mica (MY-kah) grew up in south Florida, in a bipartisan political family originally from upstate New York. His younger brother, Dan Mica, was a Democratic congressman from Palm Beach County from 1978 to 1988, when he lost a primary for U.S. Senate; he then became a credit union lobbyist. Another brother, David Mica, worked for Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles and became executive director for the Florida Petroleum Council. John Mica made a small fortune in real estate by developing New Smyrna beachfront. He was elected to the state House in 1976 and served four years. He worked on the staff of U.S. Sen. Paula Hawkins, a Republican, from 1981 to 1985, and then became a lobbyist. He ran for the U.S. House when the district was created after the 1990 census. In the GOP primary, his opponents attacked him as an insider representing special interests, to which Mica responded, “Some of the finest folks I’ve met are lobbyists.” He still managed to win the primary 53%-34%. In the general election, against a liberal Democrat, he won 56%-44%.
|John Mica (R)||238,721||(62%)||($1,031,911)|
|Faye Armitage (D)||146,292||(38%)||($34,241)|
|John Mica (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (63%), 2004 (100%), 2002 (60%), 2000 (63%), 1998 (100%), 1996 (62%), 1994 (73%), 1992 (56%)
Mica has been a consistent conservative but also a brash reformer. After taking office, he led the charge to abolish House select committees and to make public the names of lawmakers who sign petitions to discharge legislation, or to bring it to the floor for a vote over the objections of congressional leaders. When Republicans took control of the House in 1995, Mica became chairman of Government Reform’s Civil Service Subcommittee. There he helped pass the White House Accountability Act of 1996, imposing on the White House the laws that are imposed on the private sector. His image is that of a fiscal conservative, though with one exception: He was an early backer of the Capitol Visitors Center, whose costs soared dramatically from original estimates. Mica called critics of the project a “chorus of prima donnas” and said the recently completed facility is “absolutely magnificent.” On other issues, Mica also has focused on fighting drugs by promoting eradication and interdiction programs. He was the only House member from Florida who voted to lift the moratorium on oil drilling off the coasts of his state.
His chief legislative front has been at the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. When he took over in 2001 as chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, he pledged faster building of runways across the nation. But after the September 11 attacks, he focused on security. When congressional leaders moved quickly to pass a bill to aid the airlines, Mica played a major role in designing the next legislation: improved screening at all airports. The Senate passed a bill that federalized the screeners, and Mica and House Republicans sought to preserve some role for the private sector. They reached a deal to allow airports to opt out of the federal system after three years if they met certain standards. A few months later, Mica introduced a bill to permit commercial airline pilots to carry guns in the cockpit. The bill was initially opposed by the Bush administration and the Senate, and airlines worried about the risks. But the House voted 310-113 to allow pilots to carry guns. The Senate agreed 87-6, and Bush bowed to popular will. Since then, Mica has raised alarms about gaps in security.
On local transportation issues, Mica waged a long fight for mass transit in the traffic-clogged Orlando area and ultimately secured a pledge from federal officials of $300 million for a commuter rail project in central Florida. Local officials in 2007 settled on a $615 million system covering 61 miles in Volusia, Seminole, Orange, and Osceola counties. Pending approval by the state legislature, it was scheduled for completion in 2013. “You can only pave over so much of central Florida,” Mica said.
In 2006, he was one of several Republicans seeking the chairmanship of the transportation panel in the next Congress. Although he was less senior than adversaries Tom Petri, R-Wis., and John Duncan, R-Tenn., Mica was more of a party regular and won the backroom contest of the leadership-controlled Steering Committee, reportedly by one vote. The prize was less valuable after the GOP lost House control in November that year, but Mica retained some clout because the committee has a history of bipartisanship. And he of course would be in line for the chairmanship if Republicans retake the majority. In 2009, he pledged to cooperate with Democratic Chairman James Oberstar of Minnesota on renewing highway and transit programs. But in January, he complained about the lack of funds for transportation projects in the Democrats’ economic stimulus bill, which all House Republicans opposed. “Where’s the beef?” he asked Democrats. “I wanna know where the jobs are.”
In 2002, Mica faced a serious challenge at home from Democrat Wayne Hogan, a Jacksonville trial lawyer who spent $2.7 million of his own money on his campaign. Hogan, part of the legal team that won Florida’s settlement with the tobacco industry, said he would fight for “ordinary families against powerful interests.” Mica responded that Hogan was trying to buy the seat and that his pledge not to take contributions from political action committees was like “Rockefeller saying he won’t take food stamps.” Mica won comfortably, 60%-40%, carrying all six counties. Since then, he has not been seriously challenged.