Another major candidate is about to jump into the Republican primary to take on U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Fla., who is a top GOP target in November.
Sunshine State News reached out to former U.S. Attorney Ken Sukhia who confirmed that he was planning to enter the race. Sukhia will launch his bid on Tuesday at an event in Tallahassee.
Currently in private practice, Sukhia is well known in Florida legal and political circles. President George H.W. Bush named Sukhia as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Florida. Sukhia also represented George W. Bush during the Florida recount back in 2000 and helped independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader stay on the ballot after the Democrats tried to remove him.
Sukhia has also been active in Tallahassee, representing Gov. Charlie Crist when he was in office, serving Gov. Jeb Bush as criminal justice coordinator and representing him and working for Senate Presidents Tom Lee and Ken Pruitt to defend the Lobbyist Disclosure Act. During his almost 30 years in legal practice, Sukhia was also a law clerk for the state Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals.
“America is in trouble," Sukhia insisted on Monday. “Under the Obama administration, America is looking more and more like a socialist state. As Margaret Thatcher put it, ‘Socialist governments…always run out of other peoples’ money.’ But most of the Republicans in Congress failed to stand up against him. I love our country and I want to be part of the fight to save our system of government and our way of life. I can promise I will stand up and fight because I am the only candidate with a proven lifetime record of fighting on the front lines for conservative causes, both as President George H.W. Bush’s United States attorney and in my professional career.”
Sunshine State News asked Sukhia what in his background has prepared him to serve in Congress.
“I am an evangelical Christian who came to faith in Christ in college, I’ve lived in North Florida for 38 years, I was the presidentially appointed United States Attorney for North Florida and I have fought some of the major conservative and moral battles of our day," Sukhia answered on Monday. “As U.S. attorney I ran one of the most productive districts in the country, headed the state’s first Joint Medicare Fraud Task Force, and was honored by the president as one of the top three U.S. attorneys in the country prosecuting national obscenity distributors. I fought for the rights of the unborn, standing up to Planned Parenthood in a eight-day trial defending Florida’s Parental Notice of Abortion Act. I joined the effort in Congress to save Terri Schiavo’s life. I went to DC to help pass the Internet Decency Act. I fought in court to stop the effort to legalize drugs in Florida. I served as federal trial counsel for George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential recount battle. I’m a proven and tested conservative and I want to fight for North Florida in Congress.”
Asked by Sunshine State News about the issues he wants to focus on in the campaign, Sukhia pointed to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law impact on the economy.
“Obamacare and Obama’s policies have stunted our growth and held down jobs and wages in our district,” Sukhia said on Monday. “Whenever I hear a politician or a candidate say ‘I will repeal Obamacare.’ I tend to roll my eyes. They’ve been saying this ever since it was proposed. I get the idea some of these politicians and candidates have no heartfelt opposition but are just mouthing the party line.
“As a principled conservative I oppose Obamacare because it is a massive intrusion of government in our health-care system and it advances the progressive agenda to radically transform our free society and redistribute wealth in our nation,” Sukhia added. “For me, this is not just political rhetoric. I have already acted to fight Obamacare even as an outsider...I was called upon by Attorney General Bill McCollum to assist the legal team that challenged the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. I would repeal Obamacare and help restore free market competition to lower premiums, stop runaway costs and get the government out of the health-care business."
Noting his father came from India, Sukhia also called for cracking down on illegal immigration.
“A country the fails to enforce its citizenship laws and which has no secure borders is no country at all,” Sukhia said. “We must seal the border, stop the flow of illegal aliens, enforce the immigration laws and put the needs of our hard working American citizens first.”
Sukhia also vowed to “aggressively defend” the Second Amendment before focusing on terrorism.
“As the U.S. attorney for North Florida I put domestic and foreign terrorists behind bars,” Sukhia said. “I know what it means to fight terror. When ISIS first started beheading people and leading a terrorist jihad against America and other nations, we should have done all in our power to put a stop to before it grew! Because of the weak leadership in Washington and the failure to take decisive action at its inception, the terror is now at our doorstep. If elected to Congress I will vote to fight it with all our force.”
Sukhia also showcased his record in prosecuting gangs, cop killers, murderers and an arsonist who burned more than 20 churches across the region.
The new candidate joins three other hopefuls already running for the Republican nomination to challenge Graham. Dr. Neal Dunn, a surgeon from Panama City, has been in the race for months. So has Tallahassee attorney Mary Thomas. Businessman Jeff Moran, a former police officer from Live Oak, entered the race last month.
After the latest round of congressional redistricting, this district is far more favorable to the Republicans than it had been under the old map. Under the new map, the district takes all of Bay, Calhoun, Dixie, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Jackson, Lafayette, Levy, Liberty, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington counties, less than half of the population of Leon County, most of Columbia County and fractions of the populations of Marion and Jefferson counties.
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