MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. - Florida has added two House seats in Washington, and after redistricting, Martin, St. Lucie and northern Palm Beach County now sit in the new District 18. The Republican primary next week pits a candidate who's become a national figure, against a man who hopes local roots can propel him to victory.
Current District 22 Congressman Allen West, and Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder are facing off in next Tuesday's Republican Primary for District 18.
West says the key is to restore our economic security and to provide opportunities for small business growth, especially in an area where the unemployment rate is above the national average.
"I sit on the small business committee and I hear the stories. We were very fortunate to get a marine industry specific hearing up there," said West after addressing a crowd at the Ocean Palms retirement community in Stuart this week.
Crowder, who is retiring as Martin County Sheriff, agrees jobs is the biggest issue. He wonders though whether the partisan rancor will allow things to get done.
"Money is becoming the God of politics, and that speaks very poorly of our nation," said Crowder.
We asked the candidates whether the Bush era tax cuts should be allowed to expire at the end of the year.
"I don't think any sudden abrupt changes should be made to the taxes that are occurring at this moment," said Crowder.
"What I want to see happen is we keep the rates where they are and we prevent the "Taxmageddon" from happening. We don't need to see capital gains go from 15 to 25 percent," said Congressman West.
On the recently passed Affordable Care Act, Crowder said, "It needs to go back to Congress for some adjustments perhaps but I don't think we should throw the whole thing out."
West says it's important to protect kids, seniors, and those people with pre-existing conditions. But as to the rest of the law?
"This thing is nothing more than a tax law with 20 new taxes going to hit the American people," said West.
Both candidates support the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
Congressman West moved north to run in the 18th. As a member of the military, picking up and moving isn't new for him.
"I'm not coming here with my agenda. I'm coming up here to understand their agenda and how I can better help them being their voice in Washington DC," said West.
Crowder felt he had to step forward to offer a choice to voters next week.
"I felt like we were having something done to us rather than us having the opportunity to elect who we want."