Steube Announced Congressional Campaign



A political chain of events continued to light on Monday, with the formal announcement that state Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, would run for Congress in U.S. House District 17. Steube plans to vacate his Senate seat, an event which in turn will likely lead other elected officials in the region to seek that post as well.

Steube stressed his strong Second Amendment credentials and history of military service when he announced his plans for higher office, while also taking a jab at the workings of Washington, D.C. “I’m running because Washington is broken; it needs to serve the people it was intended to serve, Floridians; rather than special interests in DC," says Steube. "My entire adult life has been about service; I enlisted in the Infantry after September 11 because I wanted to serve my country in the war on terror. After service in the military I served the state of Florida in the Florida House for six years, and the Florida Senate for the last two years. As a pro-life, pro 2nd Amendment, anti-illegal immigration fighter for our constitutional rights I will proudly support [President] Trump and his agenda in Washington and I'm proud to have the backing of Florida's law enforcement because they know they'll have my support.”

The son of former Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube, the state senator hopes to clinch the law-and-order vote in a Republican fiend that may also include other sheriff’s in the nine-county district. But he also will likely face other lawmakers. State Rep. Julio Gonzalez, R-Venice, says he is considering running for the seat, as is state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers. State Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, has also considered running for the district but is more likely to run for Steube’s Senate seat. And Charlotte County-based activist William Akins had already been campaigning heavily in rural parts of the district, while John Sawyer, a conservationist who challenged Rooney in 2016, also has thrown his hat in the ring. And those are just the Republicans.

On the Democratic side, April Freeman, a Cape Coral Democrat who also challenged Rooney in 2016, as is Highlands County sleep technologist, have also filed. And Sarasota party leaders suggest more options may be on the way. “We will continue to recruit capable quality candidates with democratic values,” says Sarasota Democratic Party chair JoAnne DeVries.

That said, both the Congressional seat and Senate seat in play seem safely in Republican hands. Rooney in 2016 defeated Freeman by 27.6 percent, and President Trump won the district over Democrat Hillary Clinton by 27.2 percent. Steube in 2016 won in state Senate District 23 over Democrat Frank Alcock by 17.4 percent. Gonzalez and Gruters both may be contenders for the Senate race as well.

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