First elected to the Rockledge City Council in 1976, the year Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford in the presidential election and before Star Wars" came out, Posey has been a force in Florida politics for decades. Long before he was elected to Congress in 2008, Posey served in various local and county offices and headed up the state Realtors. While not the most dramatic of political rises, Posey moved up to the Florida House in 1992 and over to the Florida Senate in 2000.
After Dave Weldon retired in 2008, Posey easily won a seat in Congress. Despite 2008 being a good year for Democrats, Posey won by 11 percent and blew out his Democratic rivals in 2010 and 2012. In his six years in Washington, Posey has won little national attention and his seats on the Financial Services Committee and its various subcommittees arent exactly the most enviable of launching pads for rising up the leadership ladder or making a splash on the various cable news shows.
Where Posey has shone has been his work for the space program, no real surprise considering he and his dad worked at NASA. Posey sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and hes used it as a bully pulpit to push private space flight and jab the Obama administration for retreating from space exploration.
Theres a temptation, especially since he has been politically active for so long, to think Posey is older than his 66 years. More than any other Florida congressman, Posey is the subject of retirement rumors. They seem to surface every two years, even as he continues to be a strong fundraiser who often wins points with various wings of the GOP. Posey has been able to keep one foot in the mainstream conservative Republican Study Committee and another in Ron Pauls and Justin Amashs Liberty Caucus, with no problem.
Despite the rumors, Posey shows no signs of slowing down. By the end of June, he had already raised $786,000 in what is a solid Republican district. Democrats had some hope that Corry Westbrook, who was the legislative director for the National Wildlife Federation and had worked for the EPA, could give Posey some troubles and she started off with some strong fundraising. But things fell apart for Westbrook with accusations that she plagiarized Patrick Murphys campaign webpage getting national attention. The Westbrook campaign then dropped the ball by missing the filing deadline to make the ballot and even claiming they didnt know about it.
Westbrooks implosion left property manager Gabriel Rothblatt as the Democratic nominee. An eager and earnest candidate, Rothblatt raised more than $53,500, less than a third of what Westbrook had brought in, and only had around $4,400 in the bank by the end of June. That simply isnt enough to be competitive against Posey who had $607,000 on hand at the end of June.
Posey is not the flashiest of congressmen, but he is a successful and often underrated politician in a Republican district. Even as whispers continue to go around that he will leave Washington one of these days, Posey looks headed back to Washington without breaking a sweat.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.