Sanford Republican Scott Sturgill has been an unabashed supporter of President Donald Trump during his campaign for Florida’s 7th Congressional District.
That isn’t shocking on its face, of course — standing with the President is a common thread that nearly every GOP primary campaign shares nationwide, and for good reason. Take one look at U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, who was often amenable to Trump but didn’t provide cover for certain behaviors or kowtow on tariffs.
With one tweet, Trump dealt a deathblow to his 25-year political career.
But Sturgill doesn’t have a political record. There are no votes to question, no policy decisions to parse. No anything, really. In a way, he can purport to be whomever he thinks voters want him to be on the campaign trail. And when it comes to his support of President Trump, it appears he’s doing just that.
A glance at his Facebook timeline during the 2016 primary season shows that Sturgill was an avid supporter of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.
In February 2016 alone, Sturgill made several pro-Rubio or anti-Trump posts on social media. Those included an article touting Rubio’s gains in polls ahead of the New Hampshire primary, a link to donate to Rubio’s campaign, an image that read “Keep calm it will be Rubio,” and finally a Washington Post article titled “The moment of truth: We must stop Trump.”
Among the many anti-Trump statements in that article: “Republicans, you cannot count on the Democrats to stop Trump… Trump has to be blocked in your primary.”
Another: “Finally, to all of you Republicans who have already dropped out, one more great act of public service awaits you. As candidates, you pledged to support whomever the Republican party nominated. It’s time to revoke your pledge. Be bold, stand up and shout that you will not support Trump if he is your party’s nominee.”
Supporting one of Florida’s candidates in the primary is one thing. Whether it was Jeb Bush or Rubio, there’s only a handful of Florida Republicans who can claim they were on the ground floor of Team Trump. Buying into — and spreading — anti-Trump narratives, however, is a different story.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with a politician sticking up for his positions, even if they conflict with Trump. And Sturgill has done that. Take his support for granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, for instance. That puts him at odds with the White House and shows a willingness to reach across the aisle, which is something Washington desperately needs more of.
Of course, another advantage of Sturgill’s short political track record is that not many people saw those posts. That allowed him the opportunity to scrub his social media accounts of any dissension. But the internet never fully forgets.
But being a member of the “Never Trump” movement in private, while acting as a stalwart supporter in public makes him nothing more than a duplicitous poseur. His dishonesty was already apparent given the blatant lie he was willing to spread about Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy. But the two-timing regarding the president makes his candidacy even more questionable.
Sturgill is running against attorney Vennia Francois and state Rep. Mike Miller in the Republican primary. The winner of that Aug. 28 contest will face Murphy in the Nov. 6 general election.