With U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., expected to run for governor, businessman and Navy veteran John Ward jumped in the race to replace him.
Ward stressed his conservative credentials on Thursday as he launched his bid for the Republican nomination.
“I'm a Ronald Reagan Republican and I’m running for Congress because I believe that Washington needs more ‘Get-It-Done Outsiders’ who will fight for individual liberties and protect our freedoms, so that this generation and future generations can live in peace, prosperity, and liberty,” Ward said as he kicked his campaign off. “If we want to make America great again we need to send leaders to congress who have a better vision, a better plan, and a better way forward. I want to end the do nothing, business as usual ways of Washington so that Florida’s forgotten families can win again.”
Ward showcased his background as he started his campaign, including praising his parents and their values.
“My parents instilled in me the importance of living a spiritual life, working hard, being self-reliant, and leading with ethics and integrity. You can believe, with certainty, that’s how I will serve in Washington,” said Ward.
Ward served in the Navy during Desert Storm and, according to his campaign, “has built successful companies that have employed thousands of people and have added $100s of millions of value into our economy” and has “helped countless job seekers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners achieve the American Dream through his leadership, training, time, and investment into growing their businesses and individual success.”
The new candidate also unveiled a web video as he begins his campaign. Sources close to Ward insisted he will have $1 million raised by the end of the year and noted he would support President Donald Trump on the issues, including on tax reform.
With DeSantis expected to seek higher office, Ward faces dark horse Jeremy Kelly for the Republican nomination but there are other possible candidates looking at getting in the race.
On the Democratic side, businessman and retired Air National Guard officer Bob Coffman and Nancy Soderberg, who worked on the National Security Council under then President Bill Clinton and who ran for the state Senate in 2012, are running for the congressional seat.
Soderberg served as former deputy national security advisor and on the National Security Council during Clinton’s first term. In his second term, Clinton named Soderberg as an alternate representative to the United Nations where she often represented the U.S. on the Security Council. She currently leads the Public Service Leadership Program at the University of North Florida.
On Thursday, the Soderberg campaign announced it brought in more than $335,000 since she entered the race in July.
“I’m honored by the outpouring of support our campaign has received,” Soderberg said. “That energy is a vivid testament to how ready people are for a change from Washington’s broken politics and toward real results from their representative in Congress.
“We are giving voters a real choice in this election: business as usual, or a new voice," she added. “I’ll fight to ensure congressional Republicans won’t throw a million Floridians off health care, raise premiums on those over 50 or eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions.”
The district includes all of Flagler and Volusia countues and parts of Lake and St. Johns counties.