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Neal Dunn: ‘Nobody’s ever associated me with the tea party’

It’s the morning after you watched the Republican Party extend its control of the government beyond the legislative to the executive branch and almost certainly the U.S. Supreme Court.

If you’re Neal Dunn, the newly elected GOP member from Florida’s Second District, and therefore a not insignificant factor in the new political wave, “it’s a little bit surreal.”

“I’m still trying to step into that role,” Dunn said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

“But it does feel like the right thing to do. My wife and I have had a chance to think about this, and to have second thoughts about this. But it always has felt like the right thing once we made the decision.”

Dunn, a retired urological surgeon from Panama City, will soon represent a 19-county district that includes his hometown and Tallahassee.

He’s frankly conservative, but insists he also is pragmatic.

“Nobody’s ever associated me with the tea party,” Dunn said.

That would be Mary Thomas, the Tallahassee attorney he dispatched in the primary before defeating Democrat Walter Dartland on Tuesday.

“I’m a serious businessman. I want to see progress. I want to see things accomplished.”

Is that possible in this political climate?

“Absolutely. You noticed last night, we keep the House and the Senate and we get the White House. If we can’t do it, shame on us.”

Dunn has yet to be invited to join any of the House caucuses, but aspires to the “doc caucus” — medical professionals including doctors and nurses and a few of their spouses.

“I haven’t heard yet, but as a physician I think I probably would be welcome there.”

Dunn’s priorities haven’t changed in light of Donald Trump’s election. In fact, they rather mesh with the president-elect’s.

“I’ve been running for the past year on three core issues — repeal and replace Obamacare; repair and rebuild the economy, jobs, growth; and also rebuild the military. Those priorities haven’t changed at all for us.”

He’s a “huge” Trump fan. “I donated to him. My wife donated to him. I emceed two of his rallies,” Dunn said.

“It feels like we have a mandate to go up there and do some things. People really, no fooling, want to see the country repaired, back on track. They want to say, ‘America is great again.’ “

Written By

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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