State Rep. Leonard Bembry, D-Greenville, announced Thursday that he will challenge freshman Republican Congressman Steve Southerland next year. Bembry filed with the Federal Elections Commission to run in the Second Congressional District, which Southerland won last year as part of the GOP tsunami. It’s not clear how the district will look after the Legislature finishes the once-in-a-decade redistricting process.
“If elected, I will go to Washington as a common-sense, honest, hard-working, conservative problem solver who believes that a dose of north Florida values and ‘can-do’ spirit is what we need to get this country moving again,” Bembry said in a statement announcing his candidacy.
Bembry’s fledgling campaign said the two-term lawmaker, who had the highest score among Democrats on the American Conservative Union’s recently-released report card, is “perhaps the most conservative Democrat in the Florida House.” The district was held by former U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, a conservative Democrat, for 14 years.
Alvin Peters, longtime chairman of the Bay County Democratic Party, has also said he will challenge Southerland. Former Republican lawmaker Nancy Argenziano, who split with the Republican Party in 2010, has said she will run for the seat as an Independent.
Here’s Bembry’s full press release:
Leonard Bembry to Challenge Steve Southerland for Congress
Conservative Businessman, Farmer, Citizen-Legislator to Focus on Jobs, North Florida Values
Greenville, Florida – State Representative Leonard Bembry (D-North Florida) today announced his candidacy for United States Congress from Florida’s second district. He has filed the necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and will begin traveling the district and building a campaign immediately. A formal announcement tour will follow.
“The priorities of this Congress couldn’t be more wrong for north Florida and our nation,” said Bembry. “While politicians in Washington fight with each other and refuse to address the big issues we face, real people everywhere continue to struggle with a stalled economy and poor job market that need a jolt charge and a runaway budget that needs to be responsibly controlled. Steve Southerland has not delivered on the political promises he made in 2010 to create jobs, change Washington, DC, and bring practical solutions that will put Floridians back to work and tackle the tough challenges we face.”
Leonard Bembry was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2008 and was re-elected last year. He is one of the most independent members of the legislature and perhaps the most conservative Democrat in the Florida House. In the legislature, Bembry quickly earned a reputation as an expert on budget, economic development and agriculture issues. He believes that creating new and better jobs, supporting small businesses by cutting taxes and regulations, protecting our seniors and Veterans, and preserving traditional values are the biggest issues facing America.
Bembry will energetically and faithfully serve the remainder of his term in the Florida House and looks forward to a busy and productive 2012 legislative session.
“I was a farmer and businessman for almost 40 years before I decided that it was my responsibility to pursue public service. I am grounded in north Florida because it’s always been my home. It is where I was raised and where Susan and I have chosen to raise our family. We love it here,” said Bembry. “I am concerned about the kind of future we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. The country is not on the right track and our elected leaders in Washington, DC are failing the test of true citizenship by playing politics instead of solving problems.
“If elected, I will go to Washington as a common-sense, honest, hard-working, conservative problem solver who believes that a dose of north Florida values and ‘can-do’ spirit is what we need to get this country moving again,” said Bembry.
Leonard Bembry and Susan, his wife of 44 years, have 3 children and 9 grandchildren. The Bembry family spans 4 generations in north Florida.
The News Service of Florida