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DCCC Recruits Vet to Challenge Weldon

Correction Appended

An Air Force Reserves officer announced last week that he intends to challenge Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.) next year.

Paul Rancatore, a lieutenant colonel and commercial airline pilot who was recruited by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, served in the Persian Gulf War during the early 1990s.

The 27-year military veteran also works with the Pentagon on the national space program and consulted with the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration on aviation and cargo security issues.

“After 12 years of not providing any leadership, opportunities or creativity, it’s well recognized among Republicans, Democrats and independents … [that] it’s time for a change,” Rancatore said of Weldon.

Rancatore said going into 2008, the current Iraq War and rising energy costs are foremost in the minds of voters in Central Florida and elsewhere. In the Sunshine State’s 15th district, he said, growing health and property insurance costs are particular concerns among the elderly and retired voter base.

“Not having a clear, concise energy policy … has put us put us in a very dangerous situation with regards to funding our enemies, directly and indirectly,” he said. “Right now there is a major concern with insurance costs in the district.”

Weldon, who won his seventh term in November with 56 percent of the vote, beat his Democratic opponent in 2004 by almost 100,000 votes. The Space Coast district gave President Bush 57 percent of the vote in 2004.

— Matthew Murray

Correction: May 8, 2007

The headline has been corrected to indicate that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recruited Rancatore.