- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rep. Robert Wexler, Florida Democrat, said Wednesday he will resign in January from his congressional seat to run the Center for Middle East Peace, a Washington-based think tank.

“Taking over as president of the center … offers me an unparalleled opportunity to work on behalf of Middle East peace for an important and influential non-profit institute,” said Mr. Wexler, President Obama’s Middle East adviser during his presidential campaign. “My one regret is that I will be unable to complete my current term in office, but I truly believe there is no time to waste.”

Mr. Wexler, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and House Judiciary Committee, leaves his post 12 months before his term ends.

Among his biggest accomplishment while on Capitol Hill was the effort to improve congressional relations with key allies in the Muslim world, said Mr. Wexler, 48. He called his work with Mr. Obama an “extraordinary honor.”

The seven-term congressman represents South Florida’s Palm Beach and Broward counties.

A spokeswoman for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said House members who leave before their terms expire are replaced through a special primary, then general elections.

The governor appoints a replacement when a U.S. senator leaves.

Mr. Crist, a Republican, in August appointed George LeMieux, his former chief of staff, to serve out the term of Sen. Mel Martinez, a Republican. The governor plans to run for the seat in 2010.

“This is a great day for the center and for those who work to achieve Middle East peace,” said Daniel Abraham, the center’s founder and chairman. “Robert will hit the ground running and employ his skill and vision to help us achieve the peace that Israelis and Arabs seek.”

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