(CNN) - Florida Rep. Robert Wexler is resigning the seat he's held for 12 years to head up the Washington-based Center for Middle East Peace, the Democratic congressman announced Wednesday.
Wexler, who has proudly described himself as a "fire-breathing liberal," is a also strong defender of Israel.
His district, which includes much of Palm Beach, is heavily Democratic and not expected to be vulnerable for the party next cycle. The Miami Herald reports his announcement has already spurred jockeying from several Florida Democrats who are thinking of making a bid for the seat.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is legally required to call a special election after Wexler formally resigns his seat in January.
Wexler may be best-known nationally for his July 2006 interview on The Colbert Report during which the faux-news host coaxed him to declare: "I enjoy cocaine because... it's a fun thing to do." Colbert said Wexler, who was running unopposed that year, was allowed to say anything he wanted and still get elected.