Eight Republicans vie for likely path to Congress in CD 7

In many ways, the Republican battle for the open seat in Florida’s 7th congressional district has come down to three newcomers to the area who have established robust campaigns, along with several other local candidates hoping to stop them with lower level campaigns.

The eight Republicans may all be viable enough to have found bases that could split Republican voters in Florida’s Central District into bite-size pieces. So without Democratic candidates with viable bases, the next CD 7 representative could win a trip to Capitol Hill by getting just 20-25% of the vote in Tuesday’s Republican primary election.

When the outgoing Democratic US Rep. Stephanie Murphy – a centrist widely backed by business and business groups – announced last December that she would not seek another term, the purple district has become ripe for a red shift.

When the Redesigned legislature CD 7 based in Seminole County to swap liberal parts of Orange County for conservative parts of Volusia County, it became a red-purple district.

Who Opened Ways for Christian Missionaries Brady Dukewho joined CD 7 three years ago, veteran and darling of conservative TV Cory Millsa former Virginia resident who rented an apartment in central Florida a few years ago, and a conservative lone wolf state representative. Antoine Sabatiniwhich still lists a Lake County address.

After those paths were forged, a host of more local and established Republicans rushed in, but perhaps too late.

And when Democrats were left with four little-known candidates, all without any significant campaign prowess, Tuesday’s Republican primary election began to look like decision time for the district.

Sabatini shoots anyone – except the former president donald trump – the style of rhetoric in the Legislature has made him many enemies in the GOP establishment.

It also made him attractive to the angry voter wing of the Republican Party. He mixed his provocative rhetoric with a campaign strategy heavily invested in canvassing, to build a base that could give the least popular lawmaker in the state legislature a path to Congress.

Mills largely self-funded a campaign that featured a long-running, widely-run television ad showing him wearing combat gear and carrying a gun, and looking like he was having fun scaring liberals and the media. His America First platform, his personal financial ability to give his campaign great buying power, and his frequent appearances on conservative talk shows gave him high visibility.

Duke’s campaign caught many observers off guard by assembling an impressive cast of national social conservatives fundraising operation which attracted the kind of money most congressional incumbents would envy, with nearly $2 million for the primary.

He also built the kind of social conservatism platform that has always worked well with the large fundamentalist Christian populations of Seminole and Volusia counties. Yet Duke has yet to be publicly demonstrated he appealed to the 20% threshold in the polls that could make him a frontrunner.

Behind them is the former City Commissioner of DeBary Erika Benfield, whose campaign tried to appeal to Hispanic and female voters; former Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwardswho was once a leader of the Central Florida Conservatives; rusty robertwho has long been the right-hand man of the district’s last Republican congressman, a former U.S. Representative. John Mica; Al Santos, a retired Army colonel who attempts to challenge Mills’ position as a tough, conservative type of Army veteran; and businessman from Sanford Scott Sturgilwhich has strong ties to the Seminole County business community.

The Democratic field includes the Vice Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party Karen Greenwho refused to defend himself against accusations by another candidate that she falsified parts of her curriculum vitae; Aleck Pastrana; businesswoman Tatiana Fernandez; and former congressional candidate Al Krulickwho took on the challenges of Green’s resume.

The winners of the respective primaries will face each other in the November general election.


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