Steube, Ellison Turn to Base in District 17



Before President Donald Trump took to the stage at the Hertz Arena on Wednesday evening, local dignitaries warmed up the crowd. And the first to charge up the masses was state Sen. Greg Steube, the Republican candidate for U.S. House District 17.

“I proudly support the president and his agenda,” Steube said. As he touted his support of the Second Amendment and immigration reform, he said that Trump would need reinforcements to fight for conservative policies.

“Send me to the front lines, Southwest Florida, and I’ll fight for you.”

The campaign stop took place a day after Democratic candidate Allen Ellison swung through the district with Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor, and Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley.

“We can fix our environment,” Ellison said on Facebook post showing himself alongside Merkley. “We just have to care enough and do it.”

In a sense, the joint appearances alongside respective leaders of the party shows the nature of this year’s base elections. Up and down the ticket, politicians attest the main question they get is often whether they stand with Trump or oppose him.

Of course, the size of the crowds Steube and Ellison greeted this week shows the nature of a race in District 17 as well. Gallium drew crowds of hundreds in portions of Charlotte and Lee counties, solid turnout for sure. But Stuebe greeted a crowd of some 8,000 people at Hertz Arena.

In 2016, retiring Rep. Tom Rooney carried the district with almost 62 percent of the vote over Democrat April Freeman’s 34 percent and independent John Sawyer’s 4 percent.

Ellison also has another challenge this year. Democrats in August actually nominated Freeman for the House race, but she died unexpectedly in September. Party leaders selected Ellison as a replacement nominee, but his name won’t appear on ballots. Instead, he’s printing flyers and posting social media messages to “Vote for April, Elect Allen.”

Steube in August won his primary over fellow Republicans Julio Gonzalez and Bill Akins. Even as Democrats nationally hope for a “blue wave” that leads the party to take control of the U.S. House, Steube sees intense enthusiasm for Trump and Republicans in red parts of the state.

Voters will have their final say in the general election on Tuesday.

Photo by Jacob Ogles: Greg Steube speaks at Make America Great Again rally.

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