Ander Crenshaw Faces Conservative Primary Challenger Ryman Shoaf in CD 4
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U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., will face a major Republican primary opponent in August as, this week, retired Navy Capt. Ryman Shoaf, who briefly served on the staff of U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., last year, made the ballot by petition to challenge the congressman on the First Coast.
First elected to Congress in 2000, Crenshaw, the son-in-law of the late Gov. Claude Kirk, is a veteran Florida Republican, serving as president of the Florida Senate during the early 1990s and making a bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 1994. Crenshaw marched on the Florida political stage in the early 1970s, serving in the Florida House and running as the Republican candidate to be Florida secretary of state in 1978. Crenshaw also made a bid for the U.S. Senate back in 1980 where he placed third in the Republican primary.
During his time in Congress, Crenshaw has easily won on the Republican-leaning First Coast despite conservative challengers in the primaries and the general elections. Sitting on the Appropriations Committee and serving as deputy majority whip, Crenshaw has been an active supporter of the First Coast’s defense community. In recent years, Crenshaw has been vocal in trying to bring an aircraft carrier to Mayport.
Crenshaw’s commitment to Mayport, NAS Jax and other defense installations on the First Coast was on display this week. From his perch on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday, Crenshaw showcased how the fiscal year 2015 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MILCON) Appropriations Bill will help the defense community on the First Coast.
“Military bases on the First Coast and around the globe anchor our national security,” Crenshaw said on Wednesday. “My No. 1 priority is to ensure these facilities and the men and women in uniform based at them have the resources they need to carry out that central mission. The comprehensive, bipartisan MILCON bill accomplishes that goal through efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Moreover, it ensures that we keep our commitment to funding military family housing and quality-of-life programs as well as veterans’ benefits and programs.
“The only infrastructure projects in the state of Florida included in this MILCON bill are located in Northeast Florida, underscoring the region’s strategic role to our national security,” Crenshaw added. “Construction of a Littoral Combat Ship operational training facility at Naval Station Mayport and expansion of the MH-60R helicopter parking apron and improvements to P-8A taxiways at Naval Air Station Jacksonville are critical to keeping our Navy forces strong and ready to serve whenever they are called to duty. I am proud to support these programs and those that our veterans and military families have earned through years of dedicated service. I strongly urge all my colleagues to pass the bill when it comes to the full House for a vote.”
Besides highlighting his commitment to ensuring Jacksonville and the First Coast remain a vital part of the national defense, Crenshaw is also looking to appeal to conservatives in the district with his opposition to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law.
Crenshaw weighed in on Friday to the news that U.S. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning her post. Crenshaw vowed to continue to oppose Obama’s federal health care which Sebelius played a major role in implementing.
"Obamacare has been a costly failure to millions of Americans who were promised one thing, but delivered another,” Crenshaw said. “I don't see a change at the helm of the Health and Human Services administration changing that fact. That's why I voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act from the start and will continue my fight to defund, repeal, and replace it with patient-centered health care for Floridians and all Americans."
Crenshaw’s campaign team released a statement to Sunshine State News on Friday afternoon highlighting their candidate’s positions as he gears up to run in November:
"I will run a vigorous, people-to-people campaign focusing on the issues that matter most to the people of the 4th Congressional District. As a lifelong resident of Northeast Florida, there is nothing I am more proud of than my work to honor our veterans, strengthen our military, fight for a balanced budget amendment, simplify the tax code, deliver cost-effective health care, and protect Floridians from an overreaching government.
“My legislative record demonstrates common-sense action and positive results. I look forward to delivering more achievements to the people I serve, while fighting hard to hold Washington accountable to them.
“Federal agencies that abuse the hard-earned taxpayer dollars should be held accountable. That's why I brought the acting head of the IRS before the subcommittee I chair when it was revealed this agency targeted groups based on political belief and spent millions on lavish conferences and video production. A poorly-performing agency should not be given more money; that's why I cut their budget and told them to clean up operations.
“When it comes to taxes, I stand 100 percent behind simplifying the tax code to put more money back in people's pocketbooks and bank accounts. Enacting a Fairtax would go a long way toward achieving that goal. That's why I pushed Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan to include language in his bill recommending Congress take up the Fairtax. We are now closer than ever to holding a vote on the Fairtax.
“On health-care reform, Americans deserve certainty and freedom to make choices that suit them best. They should not have to rely on promises that are broken and they shouldn't have to pay more and get less. That's why I voted against Obamacare on day one and am committed to defunding, repealing, and replacing a law that is hurting the economy with each passing day.
“When it comes to national security, now is not the time to cut back the military. That's why, just this past week, I voted to fund an LCS training facility at Mayport and essential infrastructure upgrades at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. Moreover, it's why during the past several weeks as a member of the Defense Appropriations Committee I've personally talked with and questioned the secretary of defense, secretary of the Navy, and the head of the National Guard and Reserves on their budget proposals. We live in uncertain times and cannot risk cutbacks that will threaten the homeland or endanger our troops wherever they may be serving.
“I am honored to represent a district that has a proud military tradition; that is why I fought to bring a national veterans' cemetery to Northeast Florida, new planes, ships and missions to our military bases and for the funding to renovate our Navy hospital and expand our veterans' health-care clinic.
“There's a great deal of work ahead, and the challenges are many. It is my privilege and honor to represent a community where my family has lived for three generations. I will continue to make sure your voice is heard in Washington and make the future a brighter place for your children and grandchildren.”
Sources tell Sunshine State News they expect Crenshaw to spend more than $2 million as he looks to win his eighth term in Congress, far more than what his opponent can muster.
But Shoaf is standing in Crenshaw’s way in the Republican primary. This week, Shoaf announced that he made the primary ballot by petition.
“The time, effort and support our volunteers poured into this effort is a testament that Northeast Florida is hungry for new leadership in Washington,” said Shoaf, “I am truly humbled that thousands of concerned citizens across Northeast Florida would sign on to our campaign and place my name on the ballot.
“I am a firm believer that our representatives in Washington should reflect the values of the district they represent, not the special interests in D.C.,” Shoaf added. “The people I met and the issues they shared while I was collecting petitions indicate a deep concern for the direction of our country, which is why I am stepping out to make a difference.”
Shoaf talked to Sunshine State News on Thursday, pointing to his 27 years in the Navy, including teaching at the National War College, and four years at the Citadel. “I’m not a career politician,” Shoaf said. “I’m a career naval officer.”
Citing history, Shoaf said very few nations ever rebound when their spending and reliance on debt spin out of control. “I don’t like what I see in the debt,” Shoaf said.
Shoaf gave Crenshaw high marks for his defense positions but said the congressman needs to do a better job of following a strict construction of the U.S. Constitution. The former captain pointed to ratings from Heritage Action which rated Crenshaw below the average Republican congressman on following the Constitution. “I don’t see a lot of people up there obeying the Constitution,” Shoaf insisted. “Our founders gave us a good blueprint. We just aren’t following it.”
Saying politicians stay in Washington too long, Shoaf insisted that career politicians can fail their districts. “When you’re entrenched in the Washington, D.C. arena ... you lose touch with your constituents,” Shoaf said.
Shoaf’s team told Sunshine State News on Friday that they plan to run a grassroots campaign, featuring meetings with conservatives and likely Republican primary voters and using new technologies to target likely supporters.
Crenshaw cruised in 2012, winning 76 percent in the general election and taking 72 percent in the Republican primary against two opponents. No Democrats have filed to run in the race so far.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.