Former U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland picked a side Monday and endorsed Republican candidate Neal Dunn, who is running for Southerland’s old CD2 seat in the Florida Panhandle.
“I have examined the field thoroughly and feel strongly that Neal Dunn is the best conservative Republican candidate and is the only candidate I have endorsed for this race,” Sutherland said. “He and his wife, Leah, are conservative Christians with a long family history of military service and sacrifice.”
The former congressman said the move was “not just another former congressman endorsing a candidate,” and that Dunn, who entered the race in July, “knows first hand the failures of Obamacare and is the candidate most capable of repealing and replacing that broken system with one that is patient centered and market based.”
In accepting the endorsement, the Panama City urological surgeon said he shared Southerland’s “sentiments about North and Northwest Florida and just how important it is for our district to be well represented in Washington by strong conservative leadership.”
“I know what it takes to make our community healthier and our economy stronger, and the need to repeal and replace Obamacare and for businesses to thrive and grow,” he said. “And, I pledge, if elected, to help restore America’s faith in Congress.”
Southerland’s endorsement adds to a list of current and former lawmakers who have thrown their support behind Dunn, including former Florida House Speakers Allan Bense and Will Weatherford as well as former Senate President Don Gaetz. Dunn also picked up endorsements from Republican State Representatives Dennis Baxley, Jay Trumbull and Elizabeth Porter in early October.
Mary Thomas, Dunn’s opponent in the Republican primary, was quick to deride Southerland’s support through a campaign spokeswoman.
“It’s no surprise political insiders and lobbyists are supporting Neal Dunn, he is one of them,” said Lisa Morrison. “After all Dunn lobbied for the expansion of Obamacare in Florida and donated to Democrats. That’s what insiders do.”
Thomas, who also entered the race in July, hasn’t garnered as many flashy endorsements as Dunn. Currently, the Tallahassee lawyer is sporting endorsements from Republican Reps. Charlie Stone, Jimmie Smith and Mike Hill, as well as State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister.
Dunn leads in fundraising, too. From July through September, he was able to raise more than $500,000, and finished the quarter with $458,728 on hand. Through the same date, Thomas raised just over $203,000 and still has $160,000 on hand.