Bradenton Businessman Dark Horse for Governor



While the marquis Republican primary fight in the governor’s race seems to be between Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis, a Bradenton electrical contractor actually holds the marquis position on the ballot. Don Baldauf, a constitutional candidate who Gulf Coast voters may remember from past runs for Congress, may not be polling in the double digits yet but hopes his message about returning government control to the states will be heard.

The conservative activist has been running on a promise to close every IRS office in Florida and have states once again control federal funding, which he maintains the Constitution requires. “The state legislatures are solely responsible for funding the federal government, not you and not me,” he says. He says the only reason that’s not how things happen in practice today is a backroom deal between state and federal officials more than 100 years ago.

While his website showcases more common positions like support of the Second Amendment and opposition to Sanctuary Cities, taxing power serves not just as a plank but as the foundation of his platform. His passion stems from a fight with the IRS a few years ago that motivated research into the history of tax authority. He believes as governor he can eliminate federal income tax for all Floridians without passing any new legislation. At events, he distributed copies of House Document 398 from the 69th Congress, which he says lays out the process.

Baldauf says most Americans maintain a misunderstanding of how the Constitution came to be, reinforced by falsehoods taught in the classroom. For example, he says notes James Madison took during the Constitutional Convention show Founding Fathers never intended to replace the Articles of Confederation, adopted after the Revolutionary War, but to fix a few significant problems.Count Baldauf among 2018’s most devoted anti-Federalists.

Baldauf ran for Congress in 2008 as an independent, he says to get a space on the debate so the rematch between U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, and Democratic Christine Jennings, whom Buchanan beat by by just 369 votes in 2006, would remain civil. Then in 2010, he challenged Buchanan in the Republican primary.

This is his first run for governor, and he wishes being a qualified Republican candidate would at least earn him a spot on stage for major debates. He recently got a call from a friend in Pennsylvania disappointed not to see him on a nationally televised debate between Putnam and DeSantis. “Fox News said they were going by the poll numbers,” Baldauf says. “I said how about we change it to the two who had the highest score on a military aptitude test. I’m sure it would not have been DeSantis and Putnam on the stage.”

Still, he’s friendly with Putnam, Florida’s agriculture commissioner, who joked with him at a recent hob nob that his polling showed Baldauf as the only candidate in the field to double his support in the last public poll (from 1 percent to 2). DeSantis, a Congressman representing the Deland area, is a different story. “I can’t carry on a conversation with him,” Baldauf says, “and he’s endorsed by the guy I supported for president (President Trump).” 

The Republican primary for Florida governor is scheduled for Aug. 28.

Picture courtesy Baldauf campaign: Don Baldauf hands a copy of Document 398 to Fox News personality Monica Crowley.

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