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John Rutherford recovering from ‘acute digestive flare-up’, not cardiac episode

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Congressman John Rutherford, the first-term Jacksonville Republican who had a medical emergency in Washington Wednesday, is “on his way to a full and swift recovery,” his chief of staff said.

Notably: contrary to much reporting, Rutherford did not suffer a heart attack.

Kelly Simpson, Congressman Rutherford’s Chief of Staff, said, “Congressman Rutherford is recuperating at a local hospital on his way to a full and swift recovery.”

“On Wednesday evening, Congressman Rutherford experienced significant discomfort while just outside the House Chamber.  Mr. Rutherford received medical attention and treatment in the Capitol before being transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.  After ruling out more serious concerns, testing showed that he is experiencing an acute digestive flare up that is generating the discomfort,” Simpson said.

“He did not suffer a heart attack as widely reported.  In fact,” Simpson added, “doctors are happy to report that all of his vitals look great.  While he will briefly remain in the hospital to treat the inflammation, the Congressman’s care providers expect that he will be back to full strength in little time.  John and his family are so grateful for the outpouring of prayers and support from friends and neighbors in Northeast Florida and colleagues here in Washington, and they salute the physicians, EMTs, and staff for their exceptional response.”

The 64-year-old, elected in November, had collapsed in the House of Representatives, according to reports.

The former Jacksonville sheriff was then “wheeled out of the House chamber on a stretcher to a nearby elevator and taken to the hospital. He appeared to be receiving oxygen through a mask,” The Hill reported.

Rutherford’s north Florida colleague, Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, offered a statement.

“My thought and prayers are with John and Patricia Rutherford during this time, as he deals with this very difficult health challenge,” Lawson said. “John is a good friend and colleague.

“During the past few weeks, we had been discussing issues we could work on together for our community,” he added. “I ask the people of Florida to join me in praying for John and his full recovery.”

A.G. Gancarski has written a weekly column for Jacksonville’s Folio Weekly since 2003. His writings on politics, culture, and sport have appeared in the Washington Times, the Daily Caller, and the American Conservative. His radio and TV appearances include frequent contributions to WJCT-FM (Jacksonville’s Public Radio station); additionally, he has been a guest on Huff Post Live and the Savage Nation radio show. Gancarski can be reached at

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