Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, who's under investigation by the FBI for allegedly sex-trafficking a minor, is about to get a 2022 GOP primary challenger.
Byron Jones, who served as an Air Force special operations pilot in the Iraq and Afghan wars, told the Washington Examiner he will announce his campaign Thursday, and pledged to "restore dignity" to Florida's 1st Congressional District seat.
Jones, who now owns a cross-fit gym, "drew a clear line between his views and those of Gaetz in declaring former President Ronald Reagan, not Donald Trump, as his political idol and has said he was driven into politics by the outrage he felt when supporters of Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 as the 2020 election results were being certified," the newspaper reports.
"Our district deserves an effective, values-driven leader in Congress, not someone under investigation for crimes that should disgust every decent Floridian," Jones said, adding that CD-1 residents "deserve a congressman who reflects their values."
"You aren't going to get a career politician," Jones added. "You aren't going to get someone who wants to get on the media and be a talking head for their own glory and ego. Send me to Washington, and you get a leader who is always going to be on your side — someone with the honesty, strength of character, and discipline to go to war against the elite and career politicians on behalf of we the people."
The newspaper notes that despite the ongoing FBI investigation, Gaetz "remains formidable," having raised $1.4 million this year. Gaetz has denied wrongdoing and has not yet been charged with a crime.
"He also counts Trump, a Florida resident, as an ally and friend as well as other notables in the Trump wing of the party, including Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene who plans to campaign for like-minded 2022 Republicans," the Examiner reports. "Jones, however, should be attractive to many Republican voters. In addition to being a veteran and owner of a CrossFit studio, he is a small-government conservative who has pledged to shun his ego when in Washington."
Rebekah Jones, a former Florida Department of Health employee who alleges she was fired by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration for refusing to manipulate COVID-19 data, is running as a Democrat in CD-1. And one recent poll showed that Jones is "within striking distance: of Gaetz.
Back in August, we reported that some Republicans in Gaetz's district accused the congressman of ignoring his constituents and turning CD-1 into a laughingstock.