Incumbent Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has won reelection to the U.S. House in the race for Florida’s 1st Congressional District, defeating Democrat opponent Rebekah Jones.
The Associated Press called the race in favor of the Republican congressman at 8:45 p.m. It marked an easy win over Jones, with a lead of over 33 percentage points.
Gaetz’s victory opens the path to a fourth term on Capitol Hill.
The 40-year-old is a member of the House Freedom Caucus and a high-profile ally of former President Donald Trump, who endorsed him on Aug. 20 ahead of the August primaries.
Gaetz’s work in Congress “focuses on national security, veterans’ affairs, and adherence to constitutional principles,” according to his profile on the House of Representatives website. Gaetz has also been “a prominent voice for uncovering corruption within the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation during his tenure in the US House, as well as fighting to advance former President Trump’s America First agenda.”
Gaetz was the subject of a sex-trafficking investigation by the Department of Justice, where he was accused of inducing someone under the age of 18 to cross state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. Gaetz had refuted the allegations. He previously told The Epoch Times in a statement that he believes the allegations are rooted in an “organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name.” A report by The Washington Post in September 2022 stated that prosecutors recommended not to charge Gaetz in the DOJ probe in part due to credibility concerns over two central witnesses.
Jones, a former data manager for the Florida Department of Health, was fired from the department in May 2020 for alleged insubordination. She claimed she was let go for having refused to manipulate COVID-19 pandemic figures for Florida officials. In May, Florida Inspector General Michael Bennett found “insufficient evidence” to support Jones’s claims.
Separately, Jones was charged with a third-degree felony of illegally accessing the state health department’s computer network. She turned herself in in January 2021, and her trial is scheduled for Jan. 23.
Heading into this election year, Republicans held 16 seats and Democrats held 11 from Florida in the House. But the state has since gained a 28th seat due to population growth—Florida has gained more than 2.7 million residents since the 2010 census, boosting its population to 21.54 million, which marks a 14.6 percent increase.
Republicans have won all five competitive House races in Florida on Election Day. The state is sending a 20–8 Republican-dominated delegation to Congress in 2023.
Incumbent Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has also easily defeated his Democrat opponent, former Congressman Charlie Crist.
John Haughey contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times