Florida's new congressmen take the oath of office

By Holly Gregory and Christie Zizo, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 03, 2017, 10:22 PM EST

The new Congress is now in place. It is swearing-in day in the nation's Capitol. Four new lawmakers from Central Florida and the Tampa area took the Oath of Office in a cold and rainy Tuesday in Washington D.C.

All of the new representatives from the I-4 corridor are Democrats. They are now part of the 115th Congress.

Representative Stephanie Murphy now represents Florida's 7th Congressional District, which includes Winter Park and Seminole County. In an upset, she replaced long-time Orlando lawmaker, John Mica.

"I'm so excited to be here," said Murphy. "It's a real honor. We campaigned on change, security and equality, so the change piece is coming to D.C."

Representative Darren Soto from Florida's 9th District spent the last decade in Tallahassee being outnumbered by Republicans. He now faces that same challenge in the U.S. House.

"We need to fight to maintain access to high quality health care and education nd of course the environment is always deep in my hear," said Soto, whose district covers south Orlando and Osceola County.

Friends and family from Florida drove up by bus to watch former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings take the oath of office.   

"It's very humbling they would come so far, leave Florida and see me sworn-in as a member of Congress, "said Demings, whose 10th District covers west Orange County.

Also going the Washington ranks today is former Florida Governor Charlie Crist. Representative Crist says he is ready to work with his old party, the GOP and the new Republican president.

"Whatever it is that we can do to help American worker get back to work and help the middle class and our country, we need to do it together and do it in a spirit of cooperation," said Crist, who represents part of Pinellas County.

Also representing part of Central Florida is Rep. Neal Dunn, a new Republican for House District 2. His district includes the western part of Marion County, but he is from Panama City.

The new representatives from Florida held meet and greets inside their new congressional offices after the swearing-in ceremony.

Since the House of Representatives is elected every two years, all congressmen took the oath of office Tuesday. But most of them were re-elected.

Meet your new Congressmen

Rep. Val Demings: Democrat, District 10

Former Orlando police chief and wife of Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings. Started as a social worker before becoming a police officer in the 1980s. Won the open seat for District 10, which was a newly-formed district including parts of former Rep. Corrine Brown's district and Rep. Dan Webster's district.

Rep. Neal Dunn: Republican, District 2

Doctor and retired U.S. Army. Founded Panama City Urology Center, Bay Regional Cancer Center and the Advanced Urology Institute. Lives in Panama City. Won the seat vacated by Rep. Gwen Graham, who chose not to seek re-election because the district was redrawn to become solid Republican.  

Rep. Stephanie Murphy: Democrat, District 7

Executive at Sungate Capital, former national security specialist for the U.S. Secretary of the Defense, working on issues ranging from counterterrorism to foreign military relations. Lives in Winter Park. Defeated longtime incumbent Rep. John Mica.

Rep. Darren Soto: Democrat, District 9

Lawyer and environmentalist who served in the Florida House and Senate for south Orange County and Osceola County. Won Congressional seat vacated by Democrat Rep. Alan Grayson.

Rep. Charlie Crist: Democrat, District 13

Lifelong Pinellas County resident, lawyer, former Florida attorney general, former Florida governor, former Republican. Defeated former Rep. David Jolly, a Republican.

Rubio returns to Washington

Senator Marco Rubio also was sworn in Tuesday in Washington.

The Republican junior senator from Florida took the oath as administered by Vice President Joe Biden who is president of the Senate.

Rubio was originally not going to run for re-election. He ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for president, and then decided to run for the Senate, up-ending the race for the Republican nomination there.

Rubio went on to defeat Rep. Patrick Murphy in November.

Rubio will serve on the following committees in the U.S. Senate:

  • Committee on Appropriations
  • Special Committee on Aging
  • Committee on Foreign Relations
  • Select Committee on Intelligence
  • Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Florida's senior senator, Sen. Bill Nelson, did not have to take a new oath since he did not have to run for re-election. His term is up in 2018.