Double-amputee Brian Mast running for Allen West’s old seat
The 2016 presidential race has been cranking for months now, but news out of Florida’s east* coast is set to kick off the perpetual spin cycle that is the 2016 congressional campaign season.
Retired US Army bomb tech Brian Mast announced today the launch of his campaign to retake Florida’s 18th congressional district for Republicans:
“While I recovered from my injuries, I told my wife that the example I set for our children would not end with that blast in Afghanistan—but that I would continue to offer everything I have to make sure the world they inherit is safer and more prosperous than the one we have today.”
“Our nation is at a crossroads and our democracy is desperate for both leadership and decisive action on a wide range of issues that drive our economic future and national security,” said Mast. “The American people deserve better than they have gotten from our federal government— once in Congress, I plan to lead the way to increase educational opportunities for our young people and economic prosperity for all Americans.”
The seat is currently held by Democrat Patrick Murphy, who recently announced his run for the US Senate. Murphy beat out then-Congressman Allen West in 2012, and GOP nominee Carl Domino in the 2014 midterms.
The political media has been buzzing about a potential Mast run for the past few weeks, honing in on Mast’s service in Afghanistan, and the injuries he sustained after stepping on an IED. Mast lost both of his legs (to just above the knee,) and his left index finger, and has limited use of his left pinky as well as damage to his left forearm.
Since his return from Afghanistan Mast has traveled the country, speaking without pay, motivating some to label him “an American hero.”
Check out Mast’s campaign launch video:
Mast left his job as an explosives specialist with the Department of Homeland Security on June 6, freeing him from federal restrictions on campaigning.
This is shaping up to be one of the—if not the—buzziest Congressional race of the 2016 cycle. If current rumors about the FL-18 seat turn out to be true, former congressional candidate and political pundit Dan Bongino also plans to enter the race. Bongino moved to Palm City earlier this year, but has yet to confirm any plans to throw his hat into the ring. (He cited “a non-emergency family situation” as the reason for the move.)
Both Mast and Bongino can claim serious cred with the tea party and greater conservative movements, but some Republican voters in Florida are already comparing Mast to Allen West. More from Javier at the Shark Tank:
In speaking to several Palm Beach area voters who have met Mast and heard him speak, they said that aside from the impressionable optics of having to wear two prosthetic legs, Mast’s inspiring message reminded them a lot of his fellow Army veteran, Allen West.
Could Mast be the next Allen West?
While it would be very hard to replace someone like Allen West, Mast could very well turn out to be the political heir apparent to the popular and highly respected former congressman from South Florida.
If he enters the race, Mast’s strong connections to the military and defense communities are sure to come to the forefront of the debate. The Shark Tank has background on the rest of the likely field:
Mast becomes the fourth officially announced congressional candidate in the soon-to-be crowded Republican primary race to replace Rep. Murphy.
With so many military veterans residing in both St. Lucie and Martin Counties, Mast could surprise many in this race, if he is able to garner the military vote.
My guess is that former military and law enforcement voters in this congressional district will probably side with one of their own.
Prior to Mast’s announcement, former Rep. Carl Domino, Martin County School Board Member Rebecca Negron, and St. Lucie County Commissioner Tod Mowery, had all announced their intentions to run for Congress in this congressional district.
Others expected to announce their candidacies are former congressional candidate in Maryland Dan Bongino, Washington, D.C. attorney Rick Kozell, legal counsel to Sen. Orrin Hatch, Bill Castle, who also resides in D.C.
In an interesting twist, Mast even volunteered for the Israel Defense Forces:
Speaking to Michigan news outlet MLive this past memorial day, Mast commented on the importance of a strong fighting force, saying, “There’s nothing I take more seriously than defense of our country. By no means would I be considered a warmonger but I absolutely am a proponent of seeking out our enemies, wherever they may be.”
We are going to be keeping an eye on this race, which may be the “buzziest” of the season.
*This post was corrected to reflect the correct location of FL-18.DONATE
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