PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- It will be one of the most closely watched races this political season. It's the battle for the newly-drawn District 18 Florida Congressional seat.
But before Republican Congressman Allen West can get to the general election, he must fight off a primary challenge that includes a well-known figure on the Treasure Coast.
It wasn't what you'd call the welcome wagon. About 30 protesters held signs and chanted, declaring their distaste for the man speaking inside the Port St. Lucie Civic Center.
Republican U.S. Representative Allen West kicked off his Treasure Coast campaign Sunday with a rally.
As the Congressional districts were redrawn, West moved from a Broward and Palm Beach County-based seat to seek the new District 18 seat, with a Treasure Coast majority.
The protestors said they wished West stayed down south.
"He seems to represent the richest 1 percent of Americans, and he's forgetting about the 99 percent of us ... the rest of us who actually work for a living and try to provide for our families," said protester Jeff Callahan.
The Tea Party favorite told about 500 audience members he wants to rebuild families.
"I'll fight for them," said West.
He advocated for energy independence and criticized President Obama on a variety of issues, using phrases and language guaranteed to get attention.
"He does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning and having that title of American. He'd rather you be his slave," said West.
"I am offended by some of the things he says and does," said Martin County Sheriff Bob Crowder.
Crowder is West's Republican opponent in the primary election. But despite the name recognition, Crowder has raised a small portion of the millions in West's war chest.
Crowder upset many Republicans in 2010 by supporting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink. But the Sheriff believes his local ties and less polarizing demeanor make him the better candidate.
"I think trying to label some people that he would have to work with in Congress as being Communists ... I just think that's the wrong thing to do," said Crowder.
Crowder's camp is hoping to get the chance to debate West before the August primary.
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