Troy Stanley is the anti-Crist.
While Gov. Charlie Crist left the Republican Party to continue his run for the U.S. Senate as an independent running to the GOPs left, Stanley left the Republicans to continue running for Congress against Ander Crenshaw from the right. With no Democrat in the race, Stanley is Crenshaw's chief opponent in the race.
When asked if he was the anti-Crist, Stanley replied, I think Id prefer the anti-Charlie.
Despite Crenshaws high lifetime ratings from the American Conservative Union, Stanley insisted that the five-term incumbent is vulnerable to a conservative challenge.
We need a strong voice against big government, said Stanley on Tuesday.
While Crenshaw opposed the federal stimulus package that President Barack Obama proposed, he did support bailouts backed by President George W. Bush. Stanley said that although Crenshaw had been in Congress for a decade, he is a quiet congressman who voted against Obama proposals with little fanfare.
On some of the big issues, voting 'no' is not enough, said Stanley.
The fourth district ranks as one of the most conservative areas in the state. Stretching across Northeast Florida, starting in the eastern part of Tallahassee to Jacksonville, voters in the district backed John McCains presidential bid, with the Republican candidate winning more than 60 percent of the vote in 2008.
Jacksonville, the heart of the district, remains a Navy town, and issues concerning Mayport and other naval bases are some of the most important the district sees. Crenshaw is trying to have an aircraft carrier based in Mayport, and there are signs a carrier might be one coming by 2019.
But Stanley, a 20-year veteran of the Navy who rose to become a chief petty officer, is not happy with Crenshaws progress.
We dont have a carrier right now and that has to tell you something, said Stanley.
While supportive of a carrier based at Mayport, Stanley said that enough amphibious ships could be based in Jacksonville and provide the same economic impact as having a carrier -- and that would not require the $500 million expansion needed for a carrier.
Stanley said he's glad to be able to campaign against Crenshaw as an independent, saying that he would appeal more to voters across party lines. The rank-and-file registered voters are looking for leadership, he said.
Stanley has his work cut out for him. With less than $3,000 raised compared to the more than $385,000 Crenshaw has gathered, Stanley is relying on a grassroots effort, and he has become a favorite of tea-party activists. Stanley agreed that he needed to do more fundraising and build a campaign infrastructure, saying, Its nothing that cant be overcome.
Its a true David and Goliath story, and Im David, he said.
Crenshaw staffers said Tuesday that while they considered Stanley to be an underdog, they are taking his campaign seriously.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 727-0859.