Add two more candidates to the growing list of Republicans vying to replace retiring Rep. Ander Crenshaw in the U.S. Congress.
Julia Fletcher and Steve Kaufman both recently announced their candidacy to represent Northeast Florida’s newly reconfigured 4th congressional district, which includes Jacksonville and the Beaches as well as Baker, Nassau and a portion of St. Johns counties. They join a growing Republican field that already includes St. Johns County Commissioner Bill McClure, State Rep. Lake Ray, former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford and attorney Hans Tanzler III. Currently, no Democratic candidates have officially declared their candidacy for the seat.
Fletcher, an Atlantic Beach resident, is a 13-year U.S. Navy veteran who is making her first bid for elective office. An intelligence officer, she was deployed in support of American efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I volunteered after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 to be on America’s Away Team, and now I want to continue my service to this country and this community here on the Home Team,” Fletcher said. “Thanks to Congressman Crenshaw’s leadership, the First Coast has continued to grow as a strategic hub that is critical to our nation’s security. His legacy requires a veteran of two wars with strong ties to the defense community, and the stamina to fight every day on Capitol Hill. I am ready on day one to ensure the First Coast continues and grows its military power.”
While stationed at Jacksonville NAS, Fletcher deployed for counter-narcotics and security operations in Colombia and Honduras on joint missions with DEA, FBI and other agencies. After active duty service, she remains a commissioned officer on reserve.
The wife of an active duty service member, Fletcher is the mother of one son. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University and earned her MBA at Georgetown University.
Kaufman is a retired 27-year Navy Reservist and owner of SJK•PR, a Riverside marketing firm. He said he is entering the race “to represent those First Coast workers, businesses and families struggling to get ahead in the Obama economy.”
“No one running brings my kind of background to this race,” Kaufman said. “Small businessman, business survivalist – during and after a 15-month Navy Reserve recall – and international experience at some of the highest levels of decisionmaking in Operation Enduring Freedom. “
In a statement announcing his candidacy, Kaufman acknowledged that he lacks the funding or name recognition of career politicians, but said his run is aimed at representing Northeast Florida voters seeking a change from the political status quo.
“I’m running a very different campaign than the others,” he said. “I’ll be accepting no special-interest Super PAC, or PAC money—strictly individual contributions: I’ll answer to no one but the voters.”
An advocate for term limits – Kaufman pledged to limit his congressional service to four terms if elected – said his priorities would include helping to jumpstart the economy and protect Northeast Florida’s military infrastructure to strengthen its strategic position.
“With no money, organization or name recognition, I fully realize this is a ‘David and Goliath’ battle – and clearly, I’m David,” Kaufman said. “But I kind of like how that story ends.”