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2024 Election

Michael Waltz Still Has No General Election Challengers, Just Over a Month from Deadline

Congressman Michael Waltz speaks at a Veterans Day parade in Bunnell in 2023. ⓒ Stephen Helfrich

PALM COAST – With just more than one month until the deadline to file, no challenger has filed to run against Representative Michael Waltz, Flagler County’s representative in the U.S. Congress, in the general election. It’d be the second election in a row he faced no opposition from a major political party, though he did have one opponent in 2022.

Republican Waltz would likely still face an easy path to re-election even if he received a major challenger, as Florida’s 6th congressional district has voted for Republican congressmen by double-digit margins in every election so far this century. The qualifying period for 2024 is April 22nd through April 26th.

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Waltz was first elected in 2018, when Congressman Ron DeSantis left to successfully run for Florida Governor. Waltz defeated 2018 Republican primary challengers John Ward and Fred Costello to secure the nomination, and then went on to beat Democrat Nancy Soderberg in the general election with 56.3% of the vote. He beat Democrat Clint Curtis for re-election in 2020, strengthening his showing to 60.6%. In 2022 he faced no Democrat, and beat Libertarian Joe Hannoush in the general election with 75.3% of the vote.

Curiously, two Republican primary challengers are listed on the federal elections website, but neither candidate is filed with the Florida State Department’s election site: Stephanie Gaddis and Mathias Lenssen. An online search for Gaddis indicates she resides in Naples, well outside the district the site claims she’s running in. Lenssen appears to be a realtor in DeLand, but his attached campaign website leads to a dead link. Contact information for either person is scarce. Whether either candidate is planning a serious campaign is currently hard to tell.

Either way, there’s no political reason to believe Waltz will see a competitive Republican challenger. In 2022 he was endorsed by both former President Donald Trump and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, the top two Republicans in this year’s presidential primary. Waltz did face Republican primary challenger Charles Davis in 2022, but cruised to renomination with a 77.4% majority.

As of Wednesday, four of Florida’s 28 congressional elections this year remain uncontested. Waltz’s is one, and the others are those of incumbents Neal Dunn (R, FL-2), Aaron Bean (R, FL-4), and Sheila Cherfilus-McCorinich (D, FL-20). Since 2017, Florida’s 6th congressional district has covered all of Flagler County, stretching from St. Augustine to New Smyrna Beach. Official campaign documents list Waltz’s filing address as a strip mall in Deltona, though he resides in St. Augustine Beach. Both locations fall within district boundaries.

Written By

Chris Gollon is a Flagler County resident since 2004, as well as a staple of the local independent music scene and avid observer of Central Florida politics, arts, and recreation.

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