There’s an interesting new re-election strategy that Republican candidates in “safe districts” are utilizing this year. Avoid a direct comparison to the opponent and hope to coast to victory on the big “R” next to their name. It’s happening across the country. Republican incumbents are refusing to appear at debates and forums or even sit for editorial board interviews. Here are two candidates from Florida who fully embrace the strategy.
1st Congressional District Coward: Matt Gaetz
In Florida’s 1st Congressional District where the Republican incumbent won re-election by 34 points in 2018, we have frat boy Matt Gaetz. While his district is still trying to get attention from FEMA for assistance due to damages from Hurricane Sally, he’s off doing podcasts and TV interviews hawking a new book he is trying to make money on. What he isn’t doing is allowing challenger Phil Ehr an opportunity to go head-to-head with him. The district is home to U.S. Naval Air Station Pensacola and has a large active duty and veteran population. Gaetz sits on the House Armed Services Committee where he uses his platform to bolster the president and demean Democrats. Meanwhile, Ehr is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Navy who actually knows a thing or two about “Armed Services.” A side-by-side comparison of the two could demolish even the sizable party advantage, and so Gaetz will continue to be available to conservative media but have no time to justify his re-election to his constituents.
8th Congressional District Coward: Bill Posey
In Florida’s 8th Congressional District the Republican incumbent, unlike showboat Gaetz, has spent his 12 years in office flying so low under the radar that hardly anyone notices him. Science skeptic Bill Posey won his re-election in 2018 by 21 points, and as usual, he’s hoping voters simply look for the “R” beside his name. His district is a major hub for defense contractors and is home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. When Trump withheld aid to Ukraine and defense contractors in Posey’s district had orders put on hold for no explainable reason, he was more concerned with blindly supporting the president while one of the major employment sectors in his district was hung out to dry. Posey sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee where he continually uses his platform to promote conspiracy theories, advance anti-vaccine propaganda, question climate change and deny science. This year, his opponent is Jim Kennedy, a veteran who has worked as a defense contractor and is a rocket scientist at Kennedy Space Center. A face-off in front of constituents would only benefit his opponent so it’s in Posey’s best interest to only appear at friendly fundraising events.
This GOP incumbent strategy of denying constituents their right to make an informed voting decision may be good for re-election but it’s certainly not good for democracy.
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