U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., has drawn a major challenger in what could be one of the closest congressional races in the Sunshine State next year.
Former Florida Deputy Solicitor General Oz Vazquez announced on Wednesday that he will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Mast. The new candidate’s campaign team stressed he is “running to lower prescription drug costs, defend Social Security and Medicare, protect the St. Lucie River and fight for the people who live here not special interests and D.C. insiders.”
Vazquez noted he worked in Tallahassee with Republicans.
“As a deputy solicitor general under a Republican attorney general, I put aside politics to defend Floridians,” Vazquez said. “In Congress, I’ll take that experience of bipartisan service and work with Republicans and Democrats to get things done. I’m running to give a voice to working people who are struggling to get ahead, to seniors who depend on the benefits they spent their lives earning, and to our kids who deserve the chance to inherit the same American dream that I did.”
A graduate of FSU and Harvard Law, Vazquez lives in St. Lucie where he graduated high school.
First elected in 2016, Mast has focused on protecting the environment, including getting more help from the feds to battle toxic algae, and on reforming the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Republicans have a slight edge in this district which includes all of Martin and St. Lucie Counties and parts of Palm Beach County with 38 percent of voters registered with the GOP and 34 percent with the Democrats. Donald Trump took 53 percent here and Hillary Clinton pulled 44 percent here in 2016.
Mast won 53.6 percent in 2016, easily besting Democrat Randy Perkins who took 43.1 percent. While Democrats made Mast a target in 2018, he kept his seat with 54.3 percent while Democrat Lauren Baer pulled 45.7 percent.
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