U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) questions Gen. Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on ” End the U.S. Military Mission in Afghanistan” at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, September 29, 2021.
Rod Lamkey | Swimming pool | Reuters
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz will fend off his main challengers, paving the way for another term representing his dark red Florida Panhandle district in Congress, NBC News predicted.
Gaetz had been criticized in the primary by veteran and former FedEx executive Mark Lombardo, who sought to highlight the congressman’s many controversial scandals – including being involved in a federal sex trafficking investigation.
“Send that Marine to Washington. I’ll respect your family,” Lombardo said in one of several ads attacking Gaetz, who has not been charged and denies allegations of wrongdoing.
Gaetz, who has served in the 1st Congressional District since 2017, has long been one of former President Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters. But he received Trump’s endorsement just three days before primary election day.
Lombardo, between salvos at “Lyin’ Matt Gaetz” for his remarks about women and his missed votes in Congress, identified himself as an “America First” conservative allied with Trump.
As the primary approached, Lombardo seized on Trump’s lack of endorsement of Gaetz, questioning in a commercial whether Gaetz was an “informant” that led the FBI to raid Trump’s Palm resort. Beach, Mar-a-Lago.
Few polls were available ahead of the primary, but Gaetz, an incumbent who outspent and outspent Lombardo, was seen as the likely frontrunner. Lombardo had self-funded the vast majority of his campaign by early August, according to campaign finance documents.
Gaetz is expected to claim victory in November in the district, which has not been represented by a Democrat in nearly three decades.