Phil Ehr is set to give Florida’s 1st Congressional District a reason to go blue.
By Jay Phillips
Florida’s first congressional district spans from Florida’s westernmost border to Walton County. The district known to favor Republican representatives on just about every level is set to receive a decent amount of opposition from Democrats in 2018 – courtesy of someone who spent most of his life as a Republican, retired U.S. Navy officer Phil Ehr.
According to Cook’s Partisian Voting Index, not only is this district the most Republican district in Florida, but it is also the 15th most Republican district in the United States. This district has had nearly all of its state and federal positions filled by Republicans since Joe Scarborough won the federal representative seat in 1994.
So, why would a Democrat think they have any chance in the world at winning it?
Ehr has a few reasons.
Reasons, such as his time spent in the Navy have him well prepared for life in politics. Ehr even views his campaign and the work he plans to do (if elected) as an extension of his military service.
“I spent 26 years active duty Navy, but I usually start the count from the day they cut my hair back, so a little longer,” Ehr joked before highlighting a few of the key points that he says will allow for a smooth transition from his days serving in the Navy to his days helping his neighbors.
In the Navy, Ehr found himself doing electronic reconnaissance overseas. This means he had to understand the politics of the regions he was flying over. While having a good understanding of foreign policy will undoubtedly come in handy if Ehr is elected, it will be his understanding of those in his own district that makes him a valuable representative.
Ehr’s time in the Armed Forces give him a good understanding of a large chunk of District 1. He empathizes with many of the problems the active duty and retired military families face as he has been deployed to London, Naples and the Pentagon.
Understanding his constituency has also allowed Ehr to touch on a few of the things he thought could make the biggest difference: healthcare, gun laws and the environment.
“We need to understand the competencies and limitations of the federal government and what we need to do is pursue, with vigor, practical solutions for the problems we encounter every day,” Ehr said.
To say having an effective government is important to Ehr might be an understatement. In fact, Ehr might not be a Democrat right now if the United States has experienced a more stable government over the eight years prior to 2016.
This might sound strange, considering that period of time featured a Democrat in the Oval Office, but Ehr was looking at the bigger picture.
“Movements such as the Tea Party have implemented the my way or the highway mindset which has shut down the government and damaged our country,” said Ehr before going on to mention the hardships that such mindsets have inflicted on the military.
“The Republican Party has moved away from where I believe I can be effective,” Ehr said.
This has also shown Ehr how important it is to have a functioning government.
Ehr noted that the last few times our country enjoyed no federal deficit coincided with Democrats in the executive and legislative branches, but that it wasn’t just Democrats doing the work to make that happen.
“It was a bipartisan effort – no one ran into their corners,” Ehr said, explaining that it took both sides of the aisle making efforts to pass budgets and that is what he wants to help the government get back to.
Ehr has no plans to spend all of his time fixing Washington. His constituents is the foremost thing on his mind.
“Too many people are struggling to make ends meet,” said Ehr.
Ehr believes the area is missing out on a lot of the advantages given to it by nature, such as the power that can be harvested from the sun and other sources of sustainable energy.
Ehr mentioned that while the debate over healthcare being a privilege or a right is one that could one day be answered, everyone deserves quality, affordable healthcare now. He wants to amend the Affordable Care Act and make it work by better integrating it with the marketplace.
Ehr has to cover a lot of ground in order to become the 1st District of Florida’s first Democratic representative of the 21st century, but with the way he is campaigning there is a good chance he could be there next November.