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Nancy Smith

Hard-Right Pushback in CD 18? Brian Mast Could Face Primary Challenge

April 5, 2018 - 8:15am

Republican Gold Star mom Karen Vaughn surprised a lot of people Wednesday when she admitted she might be up for a challenge against Congressman Brian Mast in the CD 18 GOP primary. 

Consider it a sign the pro-gun conservative right is ready to fight back against the mushrooming Parkland-inspired movement that demands a new focus on the destructive power of the National Rifle Association.

I Beg to Differ

Incumbent Mast's decision to put himself on the record condemning semiautomatic-style weapons for public consumption a little more than a week after the school shooting in Parkland where 17 were shot dead has stirred the ire of many in the party who liked his strong constitutional positions and voted for him in 2016.

In a Feb. 23 New York Times op-ed Mast said he carries a concealed pistol himself. But he supports "defining what constitutes an assault or tactical firearm and not allowing them for future purchase."

A highly decorated veteran who lost both legs in a bomb explosion, Mast said the rifle he used in Afghanistan is "very similar to the AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon used to kill students, teachers and a coach I knew at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where I once lived."

His combat weapon, he said, was "the best for killing our enemies." And for that reason, he said, "I cannot support the primary weapon I used to defend our people being used to kill children I swore to defend."

Strong stuff, making Mast one of the most sought-after network-news guests as the school shooting aftermath played out dramatically on TV screens all over the world. On the other hand, some within the GOP said they were deeply disappointed.

Conservative commentator Dan Bongino, for instance, a Mast supporter in the past, took to Twitter Feb. 25 to call the congressman's point of view “a grossly misinformed position which requires a response from liberty-loving voters in CD 18.”

Karen Vaughn could be the personification of that response.

She and husband Billy Vaughn, two of Mast's constituents, lost their 30-year-old Navy Seal son Aaron when the helicopter he was riding in  was shot down in Afghanistan in 2011. Karen Vaughn has become a popular author and speaker ever since.

Karen Vaughn told the Palm Beach Post Wednesday she's not ready to divulge specifics, but she’s been encouraged to oppose Mast in the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast district and will announce a decision soon.

“I’m going to release a press release next week about this…That’s really all I can say right now,” she said. 

Karen Vaughn spoke before Florida GOP delegates and the Republican National Convention two years ago in Cleveland -- both times to rousing ovations. On the opening night of the convention, Vaughn said her son died because of restrictive rules of engagement placed on the military while Barack Obama was president.

“There is no adversary the U.S. military cannot defeat if we unbind them from the restrictive, ludicrous rules of engagement they’ve been forced to fight under for the past seven years,” Vaughn told the 2016 convention audience. “We have lost the will to defend ourselves against enemies who are hell-bent on destroying us because we have been unwilling to lead with strength.”

Even though her candidacy is still undeclared, Vaughn is scheduled to appear with Mast -- both as speakers -- at an April 15 tea party rally in Wellington. Mast will be able to guage the level of opposition his anti-semiautomatic weapon stance has wrought.

Brad Stewart, spokesman for the freshman incumbent, issued this press statement Wednesday: “Since he was elected, Brian has been fighting hard to lower taxes and clean our waterways, as well as provide strong support to seniors, veterans and the rest of our community. The upcoming elections will provide a great opportunity to debate the issues and showcase the overwhelming support for the job he has done.”

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith


I am a free woman. A God fearing, gun owning, and law-abiding citizen. No politician, and as God as my witness, no Republican, and specifically one who is my own Congressman, will ever tell me I cannot own an AR-15. If the government won’t trust me with an AR-15, I don’t trust them with an AR-15. Our rights do not come from Government, they come from God. Our Declaration of Independence states that we have unalienable rights that the government cannot take away on account of our individual liberty. The 2nd Amendment wasn’t created to protect us from crime, it was created to protect us from tyranny. Created to ensure that we are not slaves to government, but remain free men. When Congress says you don’t need a gun, that is when you need a gun, my friends. Brian Mast has conceded that the 2nd Amendment is not unalienable – he has conceded that the government can take that right away – which is a fundamental misunderstanding of the bedrock of our liberty and starts us on the path towards tyranny. There is no first amendment without the 2nd Amendment. On August 28th 2018, when I enter the voting box, I will vote for Gold Star Mother, Karen Vaughn. And I will do everything within my power within grassroots and grasstops organizing from the day she announces to the day of the primary to ensure every other Republican voter does the same.

As a fellow veteran, I appreciate Brian for actually having his own opinion. As someone who has also used these weapons, I agree they should be a little more difficult to obtain than at 18, on the same day, at Walmart. I appreciate that Brian is not a member of the NRA million dollar club. I am sure that his challenger either is or soon will be an NRA party prop and cash recipient. You can have a brain and make an informed choice and/or decision. You do not have to be a blind sheep for everything the Republican or Democratic party does. I guess that is why Independent or NPA is the fastest growing party in the country. Vote for someone who makes common sense decisions, instead of just another shepherd...

I've heard of "Raisin Toast" and "Cinnamon Toast" and "Buttered Toast";... But this is the first time I EVER heard of "Mast Toast" ! (And as a fellow veteran, it is "music to my ears"..... "duplicity" is an UNWELCOME and UNACCEPTABLE trait,.. even in "fellow veterans"

as a Republican or Democrat, or whatever you are this week, you probably better hope that the right wing nut doesn't win, cause the chances of being elected with a radical right wing agenda by all the people is not that great. She may win the nomination, but likely get trounced in the general . People just do not subscribe to the drastic wing nut ideology on either side. There is a big difference between duplicity and common sense, but some ol' timers who are set in their ways cannot grasp that "thinking for themselves" concept...

You cannot leave on your dead son's memory for ever!

STAY "anonymous" my friend: hide your head in your despicable shame !

Karen Vaughn has never waivered, never faltered from her conservative message. Brian Mast is a bitter dissapointment, not only on the Second Amendment betrayal, but on many of his Congressional positions. Please do your homework and examine his voting record. His military sacrifice is not enough credit to carry him into the next election cycle. I support Karen Vaughn for our next Congressional Representative.

I can't get a straight answer out of Mast or his staff about his REAL position on illegal immigration. This bodes poorly for his REAL position. For example, I have written him several times, asking him to co-sponsor and support the Goodlatte Bill, which deals with chain migration, eVerify, and several other critical issues. In response, he signed on to bring MANY bills to the floor for a vote, including several that provide NO real border security, NO and to chain migration, NO eVerify, with the intention of negating the great Goodlatte bill, and allowing the RINOs and Dims to pass something that betrays Americans. Mast is a loser. He will not have my vote in the primary.

It’s not only correct, it’s imperative. That’s the only way to get an accurate count of American citizen.

YOU GO KAREN ! ! (and YOU Brian,... just 'go' [as in "depart"]... "We The People" are steadfast; but we WILL REPLACE duplicitous politicians who "speak out of BOTH sides of their face"! ! ! {MOST politicians NEVER "get this" about US}

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nancy smith

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