Leo Valentin Looks to Take Down Stephanie Murphy in Central Florida Congressional Race

Florida Daily is offering an in-depth look at all of Republicans looking to challenge U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla. The district includes Seminole County and the northern part of Orange County. Today, we look at Leo Valentin, a doctor and the best-financed candidate running for the Republican nomination.

Valentin grew up in Puerto Rico and credits his namesake grandfather, a veteran of the Korean War and a doctor himself, as an inspiration and guidepost. Speaking with Florida Daily, Valentin related the story of how Puerto Rico switched to a single-payer healthcare model and forced his grandfather out of business because he did not get the government contract to serve his town.

Decades later, it remains Valentin’s goal to keep the mainland away from socialized medicine.

“I’m able to see and interact with my patients,” Valentin said. “What are the barriers for them being able to get adequate healthcare? Too often we see the common denominator is the federal government getting in this doctor-patient relationship. In the intervention, we can see that good intentions lead to bad consequences.”

The interventional radiologist favors the “Personalized Care Act“, being pushed in Congress by Texas Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Chip Roy.

“The patient has more power to choose not only their insurance and decouple it from their employer, but also having more transparency in terms of what they are paying for their service and restoring what we call the ground truth in the free market,” Valentin explained to Florida Daily.

Valentin said he is also committed to trying to remove as much red tape as possible from the system. He cited the Certificate of Need process that hospitals go through at the state level. He also pointed to the process the FDA goes through at the federal level since he has been involved in running medical device companies.

“You can see it from device manufacturing. I’ve worked with the FDA. I know they try and do a good job, but at the same time, we need people in Congress that have the perspective that they can understand what I refer to as the unintended consequences of legislation–letting people try drugs, medical devices,” he said.

Many Republicans will stress they are not career politicians and that includes Valentin but he insisted that he will not go all out on the attack. He also stressed his experience in the private sector.

“Any of the candidates would be a better member of Congress than Stephanie Murphy. I think my experience is unique. My bio speaks for itself, and I have a different perspective. I think I’m able to tackle different issues including the health care issue which is an incredibly important issue at the national level,” he told Florida Daily when asked what makes him better suited to represent the GOP against Murphy than his primary rivals.

Still, while Valentin stressed his differences with Murphy on the issues, he did not engage in personal attacks.

“When you have someone that genuinely believes in big central government, whether that is socialism or big central government, they are moving towards that same direction. That has implications,” said Valentin who put Murphy in the same camp as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

He’s been named a “Young Gun” by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) which he called a  “great honor” but downplayed that designation to stress his grassroots support.

“We’ve been already to two debates. We’ve been the first candidate there, and the last one leaving the room, and we’ve had packed rooms and people reaching out after the debate to discuss ideas and talk about the issues that they care about,” Valentin said.

Valentin said the impeachment of President Donald Trump was an overly partisan process and he promised to help Trump if they both win in 2020, especially when it comes to foreign policy.

“I think we need to reach an end to a lot of the endless wars. That’s why I really support the president and what has been called ‘the Trump Doctrine’ in terms of being strong and standing with our military. At the same time we want to avoid endless conflicts,” he said.

To face Murphy, Valentin will have to win in a crowded Republican primary that includes DeBary City Councilman Stephen Bacon, businessman Thomas Delia, businesswoman Chelle DiAngelus, attorney and former congressional aide Vennia Francois, businessman Richard GobleArmani Salado, businessman Mike Thibodeau and businessman Yukong Zhao.


Reach Mike Synan at mike.synan@floridadaily.com


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