Gaetz staves off challenge in Florida House primary

matt gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., addresses attendees during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit, Saturday, July 23, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is not a member of the House Freedom Caucus, according to his office.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) is projected to stave off a primary challenge from former FedEx executive Mark Lombardo, meaning the Florida incumbent is likely to win another term in Congress. 

The Associated Press called the race at 8:32 p.m.

Gaetz, Lombardo and retired military officer Greg Merk all ran for the GOP nod in Florida’s 1st Congressional District. 

Gaetz is a key ally to former President Trump known for controversial and sometimes incendiary rhetoric. The former president’s son Donald Trump Jr., campaigned for the Florida Republican earlier this week.

The primary comes as Gaetz is under investigation for sex trafficking allegations involving a minor, accusations he denies. Lombardo targeted Gaetz over reports the congressman sought a pardon from Trump and that his campaign paid a lawyer who previously represented Jeffrey Epstein.

The 1st Congressional District includes the counties of Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton and Escambia. The Cook Political Report rates it as “solid Republican.”

In a last-minute boost ahead of the primary, Trump announced his endorsement of the Florida incumbent on Saturday, saying Gaetz was “a relentless Fighter for the incredible people of Florida’s 1st Congressional District!” 

Updated Aug. 23 at 8:57 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr. Florida Florida primaries Matt Gaetz primaries

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