State Rep. Margaret Good of Sarasota launches bid to unseat Congressman Buchanan

A Democratic state representative from Sarasota has launched a campaign to oust U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan from his seat in Congress.

Margaret Good, who in February 2018 beat Buchanan’s son James in a special election in Florida House District 72, said Monday she wants to take new leadership to Washington. Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, was first elected to Congress in 2006.

Good said she thinks people deserve better than partisan or divisive rhetoric.

“I believe there is more that unites us than divides us,” Good told the Bradenton Herald.

The 16th Congressional District is made up of Manatee County and parts of Sarasota and Hillsborough counties.

Good, 42, garnered national attention when she beat James Buchanan in a special election in a state House district handily won by President Donald Trump in 2016. She won re-election in November 2018.

Rather than in engage or even comment on that rhetoric from others, including the president, Good said she is focused on finding solutions to improving Florida’s declining water quality and getting people access to better and more affordable healthcare.

“Water quality is one of our most imminent issues facing Southwest Florida,” Good said.

Aging infrastructure and the effects of climate change need to be addressed, she said. In many places in Southwest Florida, on an average rainy day, stormwater systems are unable to keep up with the water, she said.

“When we have nutrients from the Mississippi River coming into the Gulf, we need to address that,” Good said. “This is a national issue.”

In addition to supporting research to better understand the causes, Good believes that long-term solutions are needed.

“We deserve a representative that does the hard work to solve the actual problem,” Good said.

Buchanan, who on Monday was touting his effort to win federal funding for red tide research, said he was looking forward to the campaign.

“Next year’s election is going to be pivotal to determine the direction of the country,” Buchanan said through a spokesman. “I look forward to being part of that discussion. I welcome Margaret to the race and anyone else who wants to get in. A thoughtful discussion of the issues is always important for democracy.”

Responding to a reporter, Buchanan also commented on the announcement during a news conference on Monday morning, related to new funding for red tide research. He responded by welcoming Good to the race and promising more discussion in the future.

“Democracy is about a battle of ideas,” he said. “We’re going to have plenty of time to focus on that next year.”

Good is the latest in a string of well-known Democrats to try to unseat Rep. Buchanan. In 2018, Buchanan held off a challenge from Sarasota attorney David Shapiro, beating him by 9 percentage points.

Buchanan, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, reported last week that he had already raised almost $1 million for his re-election effort. As of June 30, he had more than $517,000 in cash on hand, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

Good has demonstrated her own fund-raising prowess. For her two races in 2018, Good collected almost $1.2 million in contributions, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

She had already raised $45,000 for her state House re-election campaign. Three Republicans have filed to run for the seat in next year’s election, according to Florida Division of Elections.