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House District 1: Candidate Steven Specht

steven_specht.jpg
Dave Dunwoody
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Of the nine candidates seeking to replace Jeff Miller in Congress, there’s a lone Democrat trying to be heard in the wilderness.

Thirty-three year old Steven Specht is a native of Marianna, an Air Force veteran, a soon-to-be-attorney and married father of one. And he wants to represent Florida’s U.S House District-1.

“I’ve always been interested in politics, I’m a real political nerd,” says Specht. “I sit at home and build spreadsheets on unemployment rates as they relate to minimum wage. I play around seeing who’s going to take the [U.S.] Senate and whatnot. But what really matters is the ability to lead and engage.”

A Democrat hasn’t held the office since Earl Hutto two decades ago, and Florida-D1 hasn’t voted Democratic in a presidential race since it went for John F. Kennedy in 1960. Many consider the best Democratic candidate to be an “Earl Hutto Democrat,” that is  fiscally conservative, socially moderate and strong on defense.

“If we’re talking fiscally conservative that I want an efficient government that provides infrastructure while protecting our civil liberties, then yes, I’m a fiscal conservative,” Specht says. “We need strong state and local governments, but we also need the federal government to do the big things. We can’t function without a strong transportation system [and] we can’t survive without a strong military.”

Specht says his biggest challenge is getting out his name and having voters understand that he is what he calls “a different kind of Democrat.”

“I’m not a far-left person, I am not the kind of person that Republicans can call a ‘gun-grabber,’” says Specht. “I’ve got a lot of moderate tendencies, but I don’t think we’ve been getting the best out of our political leaders. I’m a man of ideas more than a Democrat.”

Specht considers gun violence and gun safety one of the top issues this election cycle, which after the Orlando shootings he calls the “elephant in the room.” Specht believes the focus on assault-style weapons is misplaced, that the emphasis should be on more responsible gun ownership. That includes the use of gun safes to keep them locked away from those who don’t need to have a gun.

Turning to the race for the White House, Specht joins other Democrats in having some choice words for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who he considers a long-term threat to national security.

“His plans are half-baked; things like a 45% tariff, or building a wall,” Specht says. “Last time I checked, there’s [sic] boats and airplanes that can go around walls. He has failed to truly engage the issues.”

That said, Specht adds that there are a number of valid criticisms of his party’s presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton.

“Right now, I want to see a little bit more from Hillary, to answer the really tough questions on email and Benghazi, and other issues,” said Specht.

As for the eight Republicans seeking Jeff Miller’s seat, including Matt Gaetz and Greg Evers, who are considered the front-runners,  Specht says they represent the discord now seen in the GOP that’s led to the rise of Donald Trump.

“You’ve got state-ism, you’ve got borderline anarchy from some of these candidates,” said Specht. “You’ve got someone who wants to privatize the [Veterans Administration] which is almost universally criticized by all sides of government.”

And although a Democrat, Steven Specht is bipartisan when it comes to assigning blame for the record national debt. He told The Pulse that he blames both George W. Bush and Barack Obama with doubling down on it.