U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has already earned the backing of “the big man himself” in his quest for a second term in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, and this week he picked up another major backer.
The National Rifle Association said Friday they were on board for the Shalimar Republican’s re-election bid, which should come as no surprise to those who’ve followed the Fox News staple since his days as a state-level lawmaker — Gaetz famously fought to ensure “not one damn comma” of Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law was repealed and has been a staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights since he was first elected to the Florida House in 2010.
For his work, the freshman Congressman has earned an “A+” rating from the NRA for 8 years running, a much-coveted distinction in conservative circles.
“The Second Amendment is foundational to American life. From the beginning of our nation, Americans have clung tightly to their right to keep and bear arms. I do the same. I’m honored to accept the endorsement from the NRA, and I consider it my duty to ensure our Second Amendment rights shall not be infringed,” Gaetz said. “The people of Northwest Florida can always depend on me to keep fighting tirelessly for our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”
The NRA endorsement comes a couple weeks after President Donald Trump, who has referred to Gaetz as an “absolute warrior,” gave him the official thumps-up for another term. The president is also expected to stump for Gaetz, as well as U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Gov. Rick Scott, during a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa next week.
Gaetz faces Chris Dosev and John Mills in the Aug. 28 Republican primary.
Dosev was the third-place finisher in the crowded 2016 Republican primary for CD 1. He and Mills had less than $20,000 combined at the end of the second quarter while Gaetz had raised more than $800,000 for his campaign and had $455,000 on hand.
Phil Ehr and Jennifer Zimmerman are competing for the Democratic nomination, though they pose little threat in the deep-red district — Gaetz defeated 2016 Democratic nominee Steven Specht by 39 points, and Trump carried CD 1 by the same margin.
CD 1 covers all of Escambia, Holmes, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties.