Richard Anthony "Ric" Keller (born September 5, 1964) is an American politician, and was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Florida's 8th congressional district.
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Florida's 8th district
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2009
|Preceded by||Bill McCollum|
|Succeeded by||Alan Grayson|
Richard Anthony Keller
September 5, 1964
Johnson City, Tennessee
|Spouse(s)||Dee Dee Keller|
|Alma mater||East Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University|
Keller was born in Johnson City, Tennessee. He received a bachelor's degree from East Tennessee State University, where he graduated first in his class in 1986, and a law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1992. He was a lawyer in Florida before being elected to the House of Representatives in 2000.
Keller served as the chairman of the House higher education subcommittee. As the only Floridian in Congress to serve on the House Education and the Workforce Committee (now "Education and Labor"), Congressman Keller was the state's point man on education and workforce issues in Washington. Congressman Keller also sat on the House Judiciary Committee, where he was a leading advocate of the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program to put more law enforcement officers on the streets.
In March 2003, Keller and his wife of 10 years, Cathleen, divorced. He and his ex-wife split the custody of their two children, with his ex-wife being the primary residential parent. He has since remarried; he and his wife Dee Dee live in Orlando. He has four children: Nick, Christy, Kaylee, and Kate.
Keller is now a partner at Hill, Rugh, Keller & Main, P.L. in Orlando, Fla.
- Education and the Workforce Committee (now "Education and Labor")
- Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education
- Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness (Chairman and Ranking Member)
- Judiciary Committee
- Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property
- Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law
- Antitrust Task Force and Competition Policy
In Keller's first run for Congress, he finished in second place in the Republican primary with 31% of the vote, against fellow Republican Bill Sublette, who had 43%, but defeated Sublette in the runoff election, getting 52% of that vote. During the primary campaign, Keller publicly signed a terms limits pledge while Sublette refused to do so, and Keller made his signing a major part of his campaign.
After the 2001 Congressional re-apportionment, Florida's 8th District was redistricted from a near equal representation (Democrat-Republican) to one that included seven percent more Republicans than Democrats.
Keller readily won the 2002 Congressional election against Democrat Eddie Diaz, winning with 65% of the vote.
In 2004 Keller won his third term with 60% of the vote against Democratic challenger Stephen Murray.
In 2006, Keller won the Republican primary with 72% of the vote, defeating businesswoman Elizabeth Doran. In the general election, Keller defeated Democrat Charlie Stuart, 53% to 46%.
In October, during a debate with Stuart, Keller was asked whether or not, if elected, he would seek a fifth term in 2008. "When I make that decision, I’ll let you know", Keller responded.
Keller ran for re-election in 2008 after deciding not to keep his term limits pledge. Keller said, "I don’t like making mistakes, but I admit that was a big one. As a rookie candidate, I underestimated the value of experience and seniority." He won against Todd Long, an Orlando attorney and radio talkshow host, in the Republican primary.
Keller was defeated by Democrat Alan Grayson (campaign website), an attorney for Fried Frank, on Nov. 4th, 2008. Grayson won largely by swamping Keller in Orange County, home to two-thirds of the district's population.
Political positions and actionsEdit
In 2003, Keller was sponsor of H.R. 339, the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act. At the same time, Keller had taken the maximum level of PAC donations up to $300,000 for his personal campaign funding from restaurants including McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King. The bill would have shielded manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of food and beverages from lawsuits blaming them for "weight gain, obesity, or a health condition related to weight gain or obesity." Keller, who said he was about 20 pounds over his ideal weight, said that he thought consumers should stop blaming "fast food" sellers and "junk food" manufacturers for their weight issues.
In 2005, Keller reintroduced the bill as H.R. 554, the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act of 2005. The bill passed the House but was never voted on by the Senate.
In February 2007, Keller announced during a speech that he was in favor of the Democratic proposal at the time for withdrawing from Iraq. He stated "Let me give you an analogy. Imagine your next door neighbor refuses to mow his lawn and the weeds are all the way up to his waist. You decide you’re going to mow his lawn for him every single week. The neighbor never says thank you. He hates you and sometimes he takes out a gun and shoots at you. Under these circumstances, do you keep mowing his lawn forever? Do you send even more of your family members over to mow his lawn? Or do you say to that neighbor, ‘You better step it up and mow your own lawn or there’s going to be serious consequences for you’?"
Position on 2008 "Bailout"Edit
- Jeffrey C. Billman and Jonathan Cunningham, "Ric Keller's Greatest Hits: Votes and quotes from Orlando's favorite congressman", Orlando Weekly, November 2, 2006
- House biography of Keller, accessed June 23, 2007
- "Self-Limiter Ric Keller Wins FL-8 GOP Run-Off", Press release, U.S. Term Limits (organization), October 3, 2000
- Rachel Kapochunas, "Keller’s Early ‘08 Opponent Focusing on Broken Term Limit Pledge", New York Times, December 5, 2006
- "Keller, Kraft Weigh in on Obesity", Conrad F. Meier, Health Care News, August 1, 2003.
- H.R. 554, 109th Congress, GovTrack.us, accessed June 23, 2007
- "Congressman Ric Keller’s Speech on Iraq Resolution", February 14, 2007
- "Bailout Roll Call" (PDF). 2008-09-29. Retrieved September 29, 2008.
- Thomas (Library of Congress): HR 4777