First elected to a partial term in 2010, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch is seeking a third full term representing northwest Broward and southwest Palm Beach counties.
He’ll be on the Aug. 26 primary ballot, facing fellow Democrat Emmanuel Morel, a retired federal employee.
Why do you want to be a member of Congress again?
My passion for strengthening the community and making peoples’ lives better is stronger now than when I first got into politics. And the opportunity to help people is why I do this and I want to keep doing it
Why is it stronger now?
Because I’ve seen what’s possible in this job. I’ve seen the many ways that I’m able to affect the community. I’ve seen hundreds of thousands of dollars just this year that we’ve returned to constituents. Money that they were owed but they ran into roadblocks with IRS or Medicare or Social Security and I got involved and they got what they were entitled to.
I’ve spend he past four and half years fighting to make sure that my constituent’s Mitch Libman’s best friend could receive the Medal of Honor that was denied to him because there were two dozen brave Americans who didn’t receive what was theirs because of their ethnic origin or their religion and I worked with a tea party member of Congress to change the law and to push the Army and the White House to get that done and we righted a wrong
And those are the sorts of things I just didn’t know were possible before I got into this and that’s why I’m more passionate than ever.
Having an understanding of what’s possible also makes me redouble my efforts to fight those who stand in the way of doing the things that my constituents and the country would want to get done. And that’s why I have been working to get the big special interest money out of politics and my efforts have now succeeded in that I am taking the lead in the U.S. House of Representatives on the constitutional amendment to overturn citizens united. We are over 100 cosponsors on my proposed resolution, and we have support in every part of the country because people understand it’s the special interests who stand in the way of raising the minimum wage, ending tax breaks for oil companies, passing equal pay laws, doing equal pay for equal work, doing all of the things that would – passing comprehensive immigration reform – all the things that would benefit our community and the country
What’s the major issue in the campaign?
The major issue as far I’m concerned the major issue in the campaign ought to be my record of accomplishment which I’m really proud of, and that’s what I talk about when I’m out in the community. And my fierce commitment to listen to my constituents and to respond to their needs and do the things that, and advocate for the positions that they want me to stand strong on
What are the three most important things – quick bullet points – you want to accomplish if elected?
No 1, in my position as the ranking member of the Middle East Subcommittee I’m in a really important position as it relates to U.S. policy in the Middle East and our support for Israel and the defense of Israel’s right to defend herself. And with everything that’s happening right now, that is position and the need to stand strong is of really great significance to me and the community. I’m going to continue to do it.
No 2, I’m leading the effort to amend the Constitution to get big special interest money out of our electoral system and return democracy to the people. And I know that it’s not easy. And I know that we shouldn’t expect that there’s going to be a vote in the House before the election even though there will be one in the Senate. But I know how important that issue is because it relates to every other issue that we work on here.
No 3, I want to work to create real economic opportunity for South Florida and for the country. And that means moving forward on infrastructure investments so that we can compete with the rest of the world so that our economy can compete with the rest of the world. That means raising the minimum wage. That means equal pay for equal work. These are the sorts of things that can really build our economy and I’m going to continue to fight to do it.
What’s the main reason you should be re-nominated and not your opponent?
I am proud of the work that I do in the district. I have an open door to meet with my constituents and that I work hard to respond to their needs and I’m proud of the constituent service that we provide. In Washington I am a leader on the issues that matter to my community and I think that’s what my constituents want and also I think that’s what voters want. Someone who understands them, who wants to represent them and who works tirelessly every day on behalf of their interests and their values.
Your opponent seems to have one central issue and suggests that you’re out of touch with what people want partly because of this [visa issue for foreign workers that he suggests] shows that you don’t care about the people because you haven’t taken care of that problem?
With all due respect to my opponent, if he checked the record just a bit he would know there’s not a member of Congress who actually has focused on this issue more and worked harder on behalf of my constituents or American workers than I have.
That’s why I worked with the Workforce Alliance and the schools and local employers and former [Palm Beach County] Commissioner [Burt] Aaronson to help move training programs forward, to help the kids in our schools know what kinds of jobs are available for them here in South Florida.
That’s why I introduced legislation to bring greater transparency to the visa program so that everyone has an opportunity to know who’s using these visas and when there might be chances change the focus for those jobs and give them to American workers instead.
Not only am I not out of touch I am feverishly working to get good jobs for American workers every single day
What would you emphasize about this race, about your primary contest?
I think that this is a Democratic primary. So first of all I want every person who’s eligible to vote in the Democratic primary to know that it’s happening because when they do I am confident that they are going to want to come out to support the person who for all of my time in Congress since 2010, going back to my days in the state senate has consistently stood up on behalf of the values that we all share and has never been afraid of a fight when those values are challenged.
What’s your position on Obamacare?
I support it.
What’s your position on the House hearings into Benghazi?
Why the Republican leadership has decided to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on a topic that has been explored in my two committees, especially on the Foreign Affairs Committee, time and time again outside, bipartisan committees have explored this.
Why we’re wasting millions of dollars on something that is clearly a political stunt I don’t understand and I oppose it. There’s no conspiracy here. And it’s been explored in every way since this tragic event. And let’s remember it was a tragic event, and the loss of brave Americans who served our country well.
What’s your position on medical marijuana?
I support the proposed constitutional amendment.
What’s your position on same-sex marriage?
I support marriage equality and would point out in the Florida Senate was the author of the state Employment Non Discrimination Act every year when I was there.
What’s your position on continuing or lifting the Cuba embargo?
I don’t support lifting the embargo unless and until the regime is prepared to start respecting human rights.
Do you believe global climate change is caused by human activity?
Is that a rhetorical question? Yes I do.
What are your views on what needs to be done with Social Security and Medicare, if anything really needs to be done?
Social Security is not going bankrupt, and if we want to strengthen it for the next 75 years, then we ought to move forward with my bill that’s been supported by every Social Security group around the country to phase out the cap that currently exists on Social Security contributions and to increase the benefits of Social Security. The more you pay in and the more you get out. And it extends the solvency for 75 years. That’s the kind of thing we ought to be doing. The notion that we should look for ways to cut Social Security is a dangerous path to go down.
What should be done about the situation on the border with the influx of children from Central America?
First of all we need to more forward with the supplemental budget request that the president requested. We have to treat these kids humanely because we’re America. And we have to follow the law. This is being made more complicated and demonizing children is not the way to address serious immigration issues.
What explains the difficult climate for Democrats this year? Your district obviously is a largely, overwhelmingly Democratic district. But generally nationally it doesn’t look as if it’s going to be such a good year. What do you think explains that?
It’s July and the general election is in November, and there’s a long time between now and then. People are frustrated with the inability to get things done. And the question is why is that the case? I look at what the Senate has done and I look at the decisions made by the House to, instead of focusing on creating jobs and raising the minimum wage and passing an equal pay for equal work, on investing in infrastructure, extending the highway trust fund. One thing after another could be done to strengthen our economy and instead we’re going to have more Benghazi hearings, more IRS hearings, and more attempts to cater to special interests by blocking meaningful reform.
That’s what’s happening in the House. And I think as long as we’re able to help people understand misguided priorities and obstructionism of the House leadership, then I think things will be better than it may look at he moment.
Add to that the fact that there is this ongoing drumbeat, and I see it every day in the House Judiciary Committee, against women’s reproductive rights, against women’s economic opportunity, and this wish that some of my colleagues hae that Roe v. Wade was not the law of the land, that women did not enjoy constitutional rights to make their own health care decisions and they’re efforts to undermine those rights at every turn.
Is there a contemporary conservative that you most admire?
I actually admire a lot of my Republican friends in the House, a lot of my Republican colleagues. There area good number of them who have interesting ideas that I don’t always agree with. But they would like to get things done. I believe that. But when the speaker of the House allows 10 to 15 percent of the House of Representatives top decide what we’re going to do and when we’re going to do it and how to most appeal to the most extreme elements, then it makes it hard for those Republicans who want to get things done to be able to work with people like me to accomplish things.
Look at south Florida. I have a great relationship with and I admire Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart. Immigration reform, we were until the very end I was convinced that we were going to do something significant with immigration reform. And if the speaker let a guy like Rep. Diaz-Balart guide the debate instead of the Steve Kings of the party, then we would be able to have immigration reform. If they listened to Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen on issues affecting the LGBT community, than the American community would be more inclusive than it is today. So I absolutely admire a lot of Republicans, but it’s the 10 to 15 percent of the House that prevents the thoughtful, the majority really of Republicans who are thoughtful from being able to work to get things done.
[There is] One issue that so frustrates me. Every morning I walk past an elementary school in my neighborhood in Washington. And it’s usually about the time that the parents are dropping off their kids. And I can’t help thinking about what happened at Sandy Hook in Connecticut, and the thought that we still haven’t’ even been able to have a vote on a piece of meaningful gun safety legislation that’s supported by Democrats, Republicans, and even NRA members. Of all the things that are happening here, my frustration about the power of special interests blocking our ability to do meaningful things for the American people can really be summed up in that issue and the fact that we have let down those families and we’ve let down the people of this country by failing to do anything to move gun safety legislation.
About Ted Deutch
Family: married, three children.
Residence: west of Boca Raton.
Education: Bachelor's and law degrees, University of Michigan.
Occupation: member of Congress.
Political career: State senator, 2007-2010; member of Congress, April 2010 to present; member, Foreign Affairs, Judiciary and Ethics committees; ranking Democrat, Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee.
Campaign coffers: $581,419 in campaign account as of June 30.