JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Republican U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw will not be running for re-election in November, according to a statement released on Wednesday.
After a great deal of reflection, I have decided not to seek re-election this fall. Representing the Congressional District where my family has lived for four generations has been a tremendous privilege. I am proud of the work we have accomplished for the citizens of Northeast Florida and our nation during my time in Congress. Progress is measured in projects completed and lives impacted, and I think we made a difference. Now, it is time to turn the page on this chapter of my life and see what’s next," Crenshaw said.
Crenshaw, 71, has represented Florida's 4th Congressional District for the past eight terms and serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
Crenshaw told News4Jax he's not sure what's next for him.
UNCUT: Rep. Ander Crenshaw discusses his decision
"I really have no idea. The main thing is I realize in my life right now it was time for change, time to turn the page," Crenshaw said. "I don't know what is next, but I've got a year to finish the work I started here in Congress. That is quite a load. Once that's over, I'll be thinking about what to do next. I just really don't have any idea."
Crenshaw is a third-generation resident of Northeast Florida. He attended Robert E. Lee High School, the University of Georgia on a basketball scholarship and later received his law degree from the University of Florida.
“The last couple weeks when I was home in Jacksonville, my wife and I talked a lot about what we want to do in the future and what a tremendous privilege it's been to represent this community where my family's lived for four generations," Crenshaw said. "I thought about some of the accomplishments we've been involved in. It seems like the right time to say, 'We're going to turn the page on this chapter of my life and see what's next.' I'm looking forward to what's next. It's a privilege to serve. I'm proud of what we've done and been able to accomplish a lot for the constituents as well as our country.”
Before his time in Congress, Crenshaw was a member of the state Legislature, serving in Florida's House of Representatives for six years in the 1970s. Crenshaw also won a special election in 1986 for a seat in the Florida Senate.
In 1992, he became the first Republican elected president of the Senate in more than 100 years.
Crenshaw ran for governor in 1994 and lost to Jeb Bush.
Who will take Crenshaw's seat?
Qualifying begins in May for anyone looking to replace Crenshaw, and many big-name Republicans are scrambling to take the seat. Among them is Jerry Holland, Duval County's current property appraiser and former supervisor of elections.
"It’s an opportunity to serve in another capacity, if the voters want me to do that, so it’s something I am seriously looking at and will make a decision by Monday," said Holland, who also previously served on Jacksonville's City Council. "I have been in tough situations. I am not saying everything I’ve done in the past experience-wise relates exactly to it, but the experience I have, I get moving right away."
Holland said that if he runs, he would not have to resign his new office unless he wins.
Former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford said he’s “heavily thinking” about running for Crenshaw’s seat.
"I would be very surprised and honored to pick up the mantle for congressman Crenshaw. The service he has provided to our veterans in this country has been phenomenal. It would truly be an honor to continue that service," Rutherford said.
Current state Rep. Lake Ray said Crenshaw's announcement came as a surprise to him, but he is ready to run.
"There are a number of people who've been reaching out to me this morning," Ray said. "I'm very honored that people are thinking that I might be a good replacement, and I'm really looking at that."
When it comes to finding a replacement, News4Jax political analyst Jennifer Carroll believes another Republican will take Crenshaw's seat.
"I can see someone like Aaron Bean stepping up to run for his seat, or Lake Ray, or even the mayor, if he should choose to step out of his mayoral position," Carroll said. "We do have former state senators and former state House members that may step up for his seat."
Sen. Aaron Bean confirmed to News4Jax on Thursday that he will not be running for Crenshaw's seat.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said when Crenshaw told him he wouldn't be running again, it came as a surprise.
"He's been a strong voice for Jacksonville for so many years. I consider him a mentor. He's been a friend and a mentor to me," Curry said. "It's going to be really big shoes to fill. I expect I will get involved, making sure we get the right person who ultimately ends up in that seat."
Curry told News4Jax he would not be running for the seat himself.
"I love what I'm doing as mayor of Jacksonville," Curry said. "I've got a big, bold vision for the city that I'm looking forward to executing in the years ahead."
Carroll said she expects voters will want a fresh face.
"Somebody that is probably from the business sector that will really represent our area and economic development," Carroll said. "I would like to see somebody from the military side that has served previously in the military and has a passion for military veterans who served."
Other names being tossed around for Crenshaw's seat are current University of North Florida President and former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney and current tax collector Mike Corrigan.
However, in the following statement released Thursday morning, Delaney announced his decision to not run for Congress:
"While I appreciate the vote of confidence from the many people who have contacted me, I have decided not to run for Congress. I am enjoying being president of the University of North Florida, working with the best students, faculty and staff in the state. In the nearly 13 years I’ve been at UNF, we’ve accomplished so much on campus and I look forward to continuing those efforts.
I’d also like to thank Rep. Ander Crenshaw for his 16 years of service in Washington, D.C. He has served the citizens of Florida well over the years. Jacksonville, in particular, is a better place because of his hard work and dedication on issues important to Floridians. "
Gov. Rick Scott echoed Curry's statements about Crenshaw's political contributions.
"He's done a really good job," Scott said while visiting Jacksonville on Wednesday. "He will be sorely missed. He did a good job representing Northeast Florida, and he did a good job representing our state."
No prominent Democrats have stepped forward yet to say they will run. The head of the local Democratic Party said it's a hard district for a Democrat to win in because of gerrymandering.
With the news of Crenshaw stepping down, questions are raised over whether he received a better offer in the private sector.
"Usually when these congressional people leave office, they've made many contacts and have connections. Maybe he sees that the political turmoil is not something he'd like to be a part of," Carroll said. "He may want to have an opportunity in the private sector to benefit his family or himself."