Will Weatherford endorses Neal Dunn in CD 2

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Republican candidate Neal Dunn announced Wednesday morning former House Speaker Will Weatherford has endorsed his bid in Florida’s soon-to-be-altered 2nd Congressional District.

In a release, the former Wesley Chapel lawmaker explained his rationale for choosing Dunn over primary opponent Mary Thomas, who also seeks the GOP nomination in the race to succeed Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, who experts agree may be drawn out of her eastern Panhandle district.

“As exemplified by his service in the military, as well as the medical practice he built, Neal Dunn has shown Floridians that he is a dedicated leader and, above all else, a true public servant,” said Weatherford. “Through his experiences, Neal understands the issues that are important to Floridians, including health care, the economy and the importance of the military to our national security.”

“I truly believe Neal embodies the conservative principles that North Florida possesses and is the voice that Congressional District 2 needs serving as their representative in Washington; and, I am happy to lend him my support,” he continued.

Dunn — a Panama City urologist — responded in kind with warm words for Weatherford.

“As a staunch conservative who shares many of my same beliefs, former Speaker Weatherford is the epitome of a leader in Florida politics. As I continue to campaign on the three issues most important me – health care, national security and the economy – receiving the support and encouragement from him is humbling,” Dunn said Wednesday.

Weatherford isn’t the only former legislative presiding officer to cosign Dunn’s campaign — former Senate President Don Gaetz and former Speaker Allan Bense have endorsed him as well.

CD 2 — currently one of the most competitive districts in the state, having elected three different representatives in the last four cycles — figures to get considerably more Republican-leaning when the state Supreme Court redraws it later this year.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.