From Northwest Florida Daily News - March 19, 2022
FORT WALTON BEACH — Rep. Matt Gaetz announced Saturday that he will be running for re-election this year.
Gaetz confirmed that he will be fighting to keep his seat in the U.S. House as he met with a crowd of supporters during the grand opening of his campaign office at 24 Hollywood Boulevard in Fort Walton Beach.
“It’s choose your fighter time," Gaetz told the crowd. "I’m your Florida man. I’m ready to take the fight to Washington and I hope you’ll fight with me.”
There had been speculation about whether Gaetz would vie for another term in office after he said he was considering stepping down from his seat at a political rally in his hometown of Niceville about a year ago.
His six years in office also have been marked by his controversial style and legal troubles. However, Gaetz said he’s not ready to give up his seat in Washington D.C. yet.
“I continue to be inspired by the people of Northwest Florida and I think I have an important role to play in fashioning the shape and flavor of the upcoming majority,” Gaetz said when asked about his decision to run for reelection.
Around 160 people signed up to attend the grand opening of his campaign office. After meeting with several of his supporters individually, Gaetz addressed the crowd with a speech. He began by focusing on his support for the Northwest Florida military mission.
He touted improvements to Eglin Air Force Base and the addition of several new dormitories and new classrooms to support Eglin’s F-35 mission as some of his accomplishments. He also noted upgrades to the Eglin Gulf Test and Training Range.
“During my time in Congress we’ve seen resources for our military mission grow exponentially. The Eglin research lab has never had more money,” Gaetz said. “The gulf test range has never seen more enhancements than during the last five years. The best is yet to come and I want to be here to be a part of that enhanced mission and do what we can do.”
Gaetz also promised to support military service members and hold “woke generals” accountable, claiming that service members are “under attack” from “wokeism” and that he does not believe there should be any “gender identity training” in the military.
During his speech, he focused on branding himself as a “different kind of Republican,” taking shots at former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“My most frustrating days were in the era of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell when Republicans wouldn’t get in the battle and fight for our border,” Gaetz said. “I think a little differently than a lot of people in Washington. I’m a different kind of Republican.”
Gaetz emphasized his desire to “lock down” the southern border, and said he wants to see more internal enforcement of immigration laws. He also is looking to improve his record as “one of the most pro-gun” members in the U.S. Congress.
“The Second Amendment is necessary to protect our rights,” he said. “It’s about maintaining within the citizenry the ability to fight back if our government — heaven forbid — ever became tyrannical.”