GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz Draws Primary Challenger in Florida’s 1st Congressional District

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz faces a last-minute primary challenge in his bid for reelection in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, as Aaron Dimmock, a former naval aviator, filed Friday to enter the GOP primary against Gaetz.

Gaetz, a conservative firebrand and staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, has represented the district since 2017. Despite speculation about a run for governor, Gaetz reaffirmed his congressional commitment in October, stating he was “exactly where I’m supposed to be.” Notably, Gaetz led the ousting of former GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, marking the end of a prolonged feud.

Dimmock, Gaetz’s sole primary challenger, shares a treasurer with the McCarthy-aligned American Patriots PAC. His LinkedIn profile lists recent roles as director of the Missouri Leadership Academy and director for leadership programs at the University of West Florida’s Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz Center for Leadership.

Entering the race just before Friday’s noon deadline, Dimmock contrasts with unopposed Democratic primary candidate Gay Valimont, a gun reform advocate associated with Moms Demand Action.

Gaetz wasted no time in targeting Dimmock, criticizing his opponent’s past support for Black Lives Matter and diversity initiatives, referencing Dimmock’s social media post in 2020 affirming “#blacklivesmatter.”

“I’m excited to welcome Missouri-based DEI instructor Aaron Dimmock to the campaign,” Gaetz told Newsweek, affirming his stance as a “proud Trump Republican” committed to defeating President Joe Biden, securing the border, restoring the economy, and supporting veterans.

The 1st Congressional District, with a solid Republican tilt rated R+19 by the Cook Political Report, has favored Gaetz in past challenges, notably securing victory by a substantial margin against former FedEx executive Mark Lombardo in 2022.