HD 74 candidate Julio Gonzales attempts to explain why he contributed to DWS

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Conservative House District 74 hopeful Julio Gonzalez is coming under fire by local Republicans for a $500 donation to the 2008 campaign of Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, discovered in Federal Election Commission records by Media Trackers.

Gonzalez, a Venice orthopedic surgeon orthopedic surgeon, defended his move to a group of conservatives during meetings of the Village Walk Republican Club and the Republican Club of South Sarasota County, calling the contribution a “strategic ploy to defeat Obamacare,” writes Shadee Ashtari of the Huffington Post.

However, the April 2008 donation to Wassermann Schultz — a staunch supporter of the Affordable Care Act and chair of the Democratic National Committee — predated Obamacare by more than two years.

Gonzales, who faces Richard DeNapoli in the HD 74 GOP primary, insists the donation was to precipitate a meeting with the Weston Democrat and declare his opposition to the health-care law.

“There was hundreds and hundreds of doctors fighting against Obamacare,” Gonzalez said, “I, I was one of them. I did numerous trips to Washington D.C. where we went to argue against Obamacare.”

According to Ashtari, Gonzalez then tried to revive his conservative qualifications by calling Wasserman Schultz “horrible,” adding he “got into a fight with Debbie Wasserman Schultz.”

“It was awesome,” he added.

Gonzalez later cited the Affordable Care Act and President Barack Obama’s reelection as reasons he launched his campaign, calling the reelection one of the most distressing times of his life, on par with the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

“I remember waking up that morning with a pain in the pit of my stomach, knowing that I was going to have to deal with four more years of policies that were going to be designed to ruin or weaken our country and international positions that were going to weaken our position in the globe,” Gonzales told Sarasota Republican Women’s Club in an April debate.

“I could not take that.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.