Henry Lawrence to challenge for Vern Buchanan's seat in Congress

HERALD STAFF REPORTFebruary 2, 2014 

Lawrence

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MANATEE -- Henry Lawrence, one of the most decorated athletes Manatee County has produced, has filed to challenge U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan for his seat in Congress in November.

Lawrence filed last week as a Democratic candidate for House District 16, according to the Federal Election Commission.

"It is my honor and privilege to announce my candidacy for the United States Congress," Lawrence posted on his LinkedIn profile page. "Together we will rebuild that American Dream for everyone in this great nation!"

The 62-year-old Palmetto resident and former NFL standout has never run for election before. He will be facing the incumbent Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican who has been in office since 2007.

It will be a challenge -- Buchanan is a self-made millionaire and one of the 10 richest members of Congress, checking in as the sixth wealthiest House representative in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

"Henry has always had to climb uphill battles," said Robert Slider, Lawrence's manager. "He's used to climbing the steep obstacles."

Born in Danville, Pa., Lawrence played football at the old Lincoln High in Palmetto, then at Manatee High as part of the first post-integration football team there before going on to a stellar collegiate career

at Florida A&M.

Lawrence was then selected in the first round of the 1974 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders and spent 13 seasons with the franchise. The offensive tackle made two Pro Bowl teams and won three Super Bowls, earning the nickname "Killer" while playing under legendary coach John Madden.

Lawrence was enshrined in the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. He has also enjoyed a career as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, motivational speaker and accomplished R&B singer.

He was singing with the NFL Gospel Choir this weekend in New York as part of the Super Bowl festivities, performing on "Good Morning America" and at Madison Square Garden on Friday, Slider said. Lawrence did not return calls seeking comment Saturday.

A formal press conference announcing Lawrence's candidacy will be held sometime in the next week and a half, Slider said.

A campaign website, henrylawrenceforcongress.com, has been launched.

Representatives for Buchanan's campaign could not be reached for comment Saturday.

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