Apr 29, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Matt Gaetz gets last-minute primary challenger

WASHINGTON - APRIL 18: Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., walks away after speaking to reporters about Speaker Mike Johnson following a vote at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, April 18, 2024. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Rep. Matt Gaetz walks away after speaking to reporters about Speaker Mike Johnson following a vote at the U.S. Capitol on April 18. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) got a last-minute primary challenger for his seat as allies of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) look to exact revenge on the eight lawmakers who voted to oust the California Republican last fall.

Why it matters: McCarthy-aligned former naval aviator Aaron Dimmock filed to run against Gaetz on Friday, just ahead of the Sunshine State's deadline.

  • McCarthy allies are expected to spend heavily in the race.
  • The Florida primary is set to take place on Aug. 20.

The intrigue: Gaetz and McCarthy have long had a contentious relationship, with Gaetz having led the efforts to strip McCarthy of his gavel.

  • McCarthy and his allies have been working to recruit primary challengers for those who supported the ouster.
  • McCarthy — who resigned from his seat in December — has repeatedly accused Gaetz of leading the push for a motion to vacate over a House Ethics Committee investigation into Gaetz over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Gaetz has denied the investigation is the reason he moved to oust McCarthy, and he took aim at his new primary opponent on social media.

  • "Meet @aaronwdimmock - the BLM supporting DEI instructor running against me in the Republican Primary. I knew former Representative McCarthy would be getting a puppet of his to run. I didn't know it would be a Woke Toby Flenderson!" Gaetz tweeted on Monday.

The big picture: Gaetz won't be easy to oust, with the Florida Republican remaining popular in his district having won his primary in 2022 with 69.7% of the vote.

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