Qualifying is still three months away, but the jockeying for position to run for the U.S. House’s District-1 seat is beginning to get underway.
When Republican Jeff Miller announced last week he would not seek a ninth term, the names of potential candidates began flying about. One of those was Don Gaetz, who’s being term-limited out of the Florida Senate.
“I’ve been very gratified by the amount of support and encouragement that I’ve received over the last few days,” says Gaetz. “But my heart and my home are in northwest Florida. I’ve never pointed toward Congress, I’ve never had that ambition.”
In an email, Gaetz’ response declining a run for Congress was basically the same as last year, when Jeff Miller was considering a run for Marco Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat. When it comes to the election to succeed Miller in November, Gaetz says he wants to make sure Florida House-1 has a “good, strong conservative member of Congress” take the oath in January. And he may not be looking very far for such a candidate.
“I’m certainly going to support the Republican nominee,” Gaetz said. “And it’s possible that there might be a younger, smarter, taller, better-looking Gaetz, who might be interested in this seat. If so, I’ll be his best supporter.”
Enter Matt Gaetz, who represents Florida House District-4. Sources tell the website Florida Politics that the Fort Walton Beach attorney is aggressively exploring a run for Miller’s seat.
“I haven’t made any decision, I haven’t made any announcement,” said Matt. “But I’m seriously considering running for Congress. I think our country needs more constitutional conservatives.”
Gaetz, 33, was elected to the House in 2010. He’s been behind a number of conservative proposals such as the open carry of firearms, and one not-so-conservative measure: to expand the use of medical marijuana. The gun bill died; the pot measure passed and is now on Gov. Rick Scott’s desk.
Originally aiming at a run for his father’s seat in the Florida Senate, the younger Gaetz appears to be setting aside those plans.
“We can do everything right in Florida: cut taxes, roll back regulations, fight for entrepreneurship and free enterprise,” said Matt Gaetz. “But at the end of the day if we have a federal that drives up debt, hinders economic growth and that erodes America’s standing in the world, it won’t really matter what we do here in Florida.”
Qualifying for the congressional seat doesn’t begin until June 20, for inclusion on the August 30 local and state primary. But Gaetz doesn’t intend to take that much time in making up his mind.
“I think I owe it to our community to make a decision soon,” said the younger Gaetz. “I’ve been praying hard and I expect in very short order I’ll make a decision. I’ve had a lot of encouragement, and it seems to be more indicative that I’ve got to make a decision quickly.”
And the jockeying doesn’t stop with the First Congressional District. Nature abhors a vacuum, and apparently so does politics. With Don Gaetz term limited and if son Matt seeks to replace Jeff Miller, look for an army of candidates, some currently holding other elected offices, rush to fill the two seats.