The Craziest Floridians Running for U.S. Congress in 2020

Florida Congressman and Trump superfan Matt Gaetz is up for reelection in 2020.
Florida Congressman and Trump superfan Matt Gaetz is up for reelection in 2020. Photo via Florida House of Representatives
click to enlarge Florida Congressman and Trump superfan Matt Gaetz is up for reelection in 2020. - PHOTO VIA FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Florida Congressman and Trump superfan Matt Gaetz is up for reelection in 2020.
Photo via Florida House of Representatives
Florida voters have gotten a pretty bad rap over the years. The phrase "hanging chad" still sends a chill down the collective spines of the general U.S. population. The electorate can't seem to figure out how to properly fill out a ballot, and our county elections offices are notoriously incapable of fulfilling their basic and most essential duties.

But the sheer chaos of Florida's elections can't solely be blamed on inept voters or election officials. Oftentimes, the candidates themselves are truly — and this cannot be stressed enough — batshit crazy. For reference, Google any of the following names: Allen West, Augustus Invictus, Daphne Campbell, Ted Yoho, Adam Hasner, or Alan Grayson.

To summarize, entering the political ring does not magically remove the title of Florida Man or Woman. Here are the craziest Floridians running for Congress in 2020.

1. Enrique Tarrio, who has filed election paperwork in Florida's 27th Congressional District, is the leader of the far-right Proud Boys group who attended the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville:
"Here's pretty much all you need to know about Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio: He has questionable ties to Roger Stone, he thinks it's funny to use racist and homophobic slurs, and he was banned from Twitter after threatening to report undocumented immigrants to the feds as a method of retaliation against his critics...

"Tarrio, who grew up in Little Havana, has zero political experience. He hawks merchandise bearing hateful slogans, he once spent 16 months in federal prison for running a scheme that involved selling stolen diabetic test strips online, and he gets his kicks from marching in bogus rallies in order to waste police resources and shut down local businesses."
2. Islamaphobe Laura Loomer would perhaps fittingly be Donald Trump's congressional representative at Mar-a-Lago in Florida's 21st District:
"Loomer has a long history of targeting the Muslim community and has consistently used her platform to advertise debunked conspiracy theories about members of the Islamic faith. In the past, she has argued that all Muslims are to blame for the actions of a few terrorists, including those affiliated with the Islamic State. In 2017, she was banned from using Lyft and Uber after calling for a segregated rideshare service that would not allow Muslim drivers. She's also been banned from Facebook, Instagram, GoFundMe, Venmo, PayPal, and Medium due to her hateful rhetoric.

"Loomer also has continually criticized the immigrant community. In January, she "protested" immigration by jumping a fence to enter the private property of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's home in Napa, California. Later that month, Loomer joined a group of far-right protesters dressed as racist caricatures of Mexican immigrants by scaling the wall surrounding the California Governor's Mansion in Sacramento."

3. Matthew Lusk, a Republican running in Florida's 5th Congressional District, is a QAnon conspiracy theorist who believes a "deep state" of pedophiles is attempting to undermine Trump. 

Via NBC News:
"At first glance, Matthew Lusk’s campaign signs look like any other Republican candidate's.

"On one side, they read, “Matthew Lusk for Congress,” and “Putting America First.”

"But as he flipped the signs over while loading them into a hatchback near his home in Florida earlier this year, he pointed out a detail pasted on the back of one: a black letter 'Q.'

"'You never know when you'll run into somebody else who's interested in Q,' he said.

"Lusk is running unopposed in the Republican primary for Florida’s 5th Congressional District. Among the 51 issues listed on his campaign website is 'Q.'"
4. Up for reelection, Panhandle Rep. Matt Gaetz is a Trump superfan who enjoys theatrical stunts that endanger national security:
"When was the last time you stormed your parents' bedroom in a fit of childish rage for not getting that thing you wanted? When you were a petulant little shit of a 6-year-old, maybe? So before diving into Rep. Matt Gaetz's recent shenanigans, it's worth noting he is 37 years old and, seemingly, a fully grown adult man.

"Yesterday the congressman for Florida led a mob of fellow Republicans through a highly secure facility of the U.S. Capitol where Laura Cooper, the Pentagon's top official on Ukraine, was testifying in the impeachment inquiry. The probe revolves around accusations that President Donald Trump enlisted Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden — his political rival — and Biden's son Hunter in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the foreign country. Gaetz whined that, despite long-standing protocols, all members of Congress should be allowed to sit in on Cooper's deposition."
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Jess Nelson is the 2019 writing fellow for Miami New Times. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and is excited to be living close to the water again after moving to Miami from New York. She studied history at UC Berkeley and investigative journalism at Columbia University.
Contact: Jess Nelson