The race for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District is heating up, with a pool of challengers hoping to unseat incumbent Kat Cammack, R-Gainesville.
The district, previously held by Ted Yoho, who Cammack worked under as his chief of staff during his time in office, encompasses parts of north central Florida, covering Alachua, Clay, Putnam, Bradford and Union counties, along with much of Marion County.
Since 2012, the seat has been held by a Republican. Prior to that, former Rep. Corrine Brown represented the distinct of about 770,000 residents, nearly 70% of whom are white.
On Aug. 23, voters can choose which candidate they want during the primary races, before casting another ballot in the general election on Nov. 8.
Here are the candidates who filed for U.S. House of Representatives, District 3:
Manuel Asensio, R-Gainesville, was born in Cuba and fled communism when he was six, two weeks after the Bay of Pigs invasion. Asensio founded Asensio & Company, LLC the nation’s first Wall Street firm aiming to expose stock fraud, and his mother formed the Caridad Center, Florida’s largest free health clinic.
He defines himself as a Christian conservative who is dedicated to preserving gun rights, ending communism and the “woke culture strangler hold on America,” and securing immigration laws and borders. He has raised almost $19,300 in campaign funds.
Linda Brooks, from Ocala, classifies herself as an independent conservative who studied at Santa Fe College and Florida Atlantic University. For three decades, Brooks was an investment residential property owner. During President Donald Trump’s term, she said she supported and “protected” him.
Brooks advocates for dismantling Medicare and reinstating private insurance, limiting abortion access and protecting the Second Amendment. She has raised about $105,700 in campaign funds, though $102,050 is in loans.
Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Gainesville, currently represents District 3 as the youngest Republican woman in the 117th Congress. She won the seat with 57.1% of the vote in 2020, succeeding Ted Yoho, who she worked as chief of staff for.
Cammack is a third-generation sandblaster who says she grew up on a cattle ranch, and she represents the Committee on Agriculture. She supports increasing defense spending and abortion restrictions and opposes gun-control legislation and government funding for renewable energy. Cammack has raised about $1.5 million in campaign funds so far and has been previously endorsed by then-President Trump.
Danielle Hawk, is a Gainesville Democrat who works as an administrator in higher education. She has advocated for safe working conditions for University of Florida staff and for equitable distribution of scholarship funding, so low-income students could study abroad.
Recently, Hawk co-organized the North Central Florida March for Reproductive Freedom and justice in support of reproductive rights, a stark contrast to her Republican foe in office. Hawk also has community service experience with faith-based nonprofits. She prioritizes conserving water, reducing gun violence and expanding affordable healthcare. Hawk has raised around $18,400 in contributions for her campaign.
Justin Waters, R-Alachua, says hunting and church is his way of life. Waters is a juvenile law attorney who identifies as a constitutional conservative. He values protecting the Second Amendment and border, decreasing taxes, and limiting lockdowns for COVID-19. Waters has raised about $13,000 in campaign contributions, records show.
Tom Wells, D-Gainesville, has ran to represent District 3 multiple times, in 2016, 2018 and 2020, losing time. He also lost in the Democratic primary on Aug. 18, 2020 with about 33% of the vote. He promotes improved Medicaid for all, the Green New Deal, full funding of public schools and raising the minimum wage, he says.
Wells was arrested in January for refusing to leave a University of Florida student event, and next week he will face a trial. He has raised about $8,000 for his campaign, almost entirely which has been made up from his own funds.