UPDATE 5 PM: Adds detail on another Republican candidate.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, got a new Republican challenger today -- Jorge Bonilla, a military veteran and contributor to The Shark Tank, a conservative blog.
In announcing his bid, Bonilla cited a deep concern about both “the direction our country is headed in” and an “unaccountable” government. His campaign website outlined a broad conservative agenda of reducing the debt, cutting red tape and ensuring national security.
“The central question of the 2014 election is this: Are we the people still capable of self-rule or do we abandon the American revolution and concede that a small connected elite out of Washington D.C. and New York is better capable of running our lives as we are ourselves,” Bonilla said.
Bonilla faces a steep climb. Grayson is a prolific fundraiser and his district, which includes Osceola County and parts of Orange and Polk, tilts heavily Democratic.
He also won't be alone in challenging Grayson. At least two other lesser-known candidates have declared bids. Another Democrat, Michael “Mac” McKenna, is in and so is Republican Carol Platt, whose filings with the Federal Election Commission list a St. Cloud address for her campaign committee.
Still, Bonilla has a couple factors going for him.
Grayson’s past history of nettling Republicans could help Bonilla raise money -- if no major Republicans enter the race. And his Puerto Rican heritage could resonate in a district where Hispanics, many of whom are Puerto Rican, comprise more than 40 percent are of the voting age.
In describing his military service, Bonilla’s biography said this:
“In 1989, inspired by his grandfather’s service in the Korean Conflict, Jorge enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserves. The lessons learned in the sand pits of Parris Island will remain with him for the rest of his life. In 1991, he became an active-duty member of the United States Navy, and served in operations in support of Desert Storm, where he proudly served, and was honorably discharged in 1993.”
Attempts to reach his campaign via email were bounced back.