Brady Duke — a former Navy SEAL, close-combat consultant and Christian ministry adviser — believes the voters in Florida’s 7th Congressional District are itching for a Republican like him to represent them.
“I see a lot of people that are hungry for fair and honest representation. I have talked to a number of people who are happy to have seen the announcement that (Democratic U.S. Rep.) Stephanie Murphy is not running for re-election,” Duke said. “They’re hungry for someone who is going to walk with integrity and conviction about what a true Representative is. It’s someone that’s going to listen to the people.”
Duke, of Oviedo, is hungry himself for the seat opening to represent CD 7. The swing district covers Seminole County and parts of northern Orange County. It might pick up DeBary in southwestern Volusia County and lose a little of Orange County in the redistricting process underway in the Florida Legislature. That swap is not likely to radically change its near 50-50 partisan voter registration.
The political newcomer has his platform shaped by his convictions as a battlefield veteran, a conservative Christian seeking to end abortion, a passionate believer in the need for border security, and a staunch defender of capitalism seeking to oppose and roll back tax hikes.
The country, he said, is in dire straits and challenged on a number of fronts.
“There is a direct assault taking place on the American family, through education, the sexualization of our young children, and those things being done. Obviously, there’s a massive issue on our southern border that has immediate consequences with drug trafficking, human trafficking, gangs. The border issue, to me, also highlights there is a massive undermining of the rule of law,” Duke said, “which in the long term would drastically transform this country. And that’s not being addressed, which is very scary in the long term.”
In an ever-growing Republican Primary Election field that lacks any big, established names, Duke has surged to the head of the pack in fundraising. Tapping networks of people he’s met around the country through his consultancy and his ministry, Duke raised more than $900,000 in 2021.
That puts Duke ahead of Cory Mills, who is a fellow veteran and law enforcement consultant in Winter Park; state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who represents Lake County; Erika Benfield, who owns an interior design business in DeBary; Scott Sturgill, who owns a first-responder gear company in Sanford; Kevin “Mac” McGovern who is a retired Navy captain in Orlando; and three other Republicans.
The only Democrat running in CD 7 thus far is information technology professional Allek Pastrana of Orlando.
Even with redistricting, CD 7 is likely to remain a very purple district. It’s a mixture of more urban Orange County neighborhoods and the suburban sprawl of Seminole County and southwestern Volusia County.
Duke grew up in Kissimmee, where he was a record-setting swimmer at Gateway High School. A couple of years after high school, he joined the Navy, intent on becoming a Navy SEAL. He did and served a deployment to Afghanistan during his 10 years of active duty.
After he got out, he embarked on what his campaign website calls “a three-year spiritual journey growing his faith.”
In the Navy, he trained others in close-hand combat. And after he got out, Duke continued to provide such training as a consultant to law enforcement agencies.
He and his wife, Julie, launched and still run Intervene Ministries, which seeks to help couples or individuals in crisis reach reconciliation and forgiveness. With their five young children, the Dukes moved a couple years ago to Oviedo, where he has family nearby.
February 4, 2022 at 4:40 pm
fungus is among us
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