Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz on Tuesday won his primary race in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, NBC News projected.
Gaetz, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, fended off challenges from former FedEx executive Mark Lombardo and pilot Greg Merk to advance to the November general election, where he’s expected to trounce the Democratic nominee in his heavily Republican district.
To my knowledge, if he wins this fall, Gaetz would become the first U.S. lawmaker in history to secure re-election while known to be under federal investigation for the sex trafficking of a minor. (Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing.)
It’s a momentous occasion for Gaetz personally, and for the Florida GOP. Few could ever imagine having to suffer such a deplorable, misogynistic figure for more than five minutes. But Florida voters have gone leaps and bounds further, holding Gaetz up as their representative for at least one more term. It’s a true feat of collective disregard for dignity and ethics.
Gaetz is in a Republican-friendly district that voted for Trump by a wide margin in 2020. And recently, the Florida representative has succeeded in connecting his personal vendetta against federal investigators to the conservative movement’s Trump-inspired attacks on law enforcement.
Gaetz, for example, has publicly vowed retribution against federal law enforcement — in other words, the people investigating him. Last December, during a podcast interview with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, Gaetz pleaded for voters to give Republicans a majority in the House, and for himself to be made House speaker.
“I just need a gavel,” Gaetz said, adding that Justice Department officials’ “sphincters will tighten” if he’s allowed to investigate them as a leader on the powerful House Judiciary Committee.
It’s a perfect encapsulation of the Matt Gaetz experience, and what voters can expect if he’s re-elected: crassness and utter disregard for democratic processes.