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New Member: Republican Neal Dunn Wins Florida’s 2nd District

Former Army surgeon replaces retiring Democratic Rep. Gwen Graham

Republican Neal Dunn is the congressman-elect for Florida's 2nd District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Republican Neal Dunn is the congressman-elect for Florida's 2nd District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Neal Dunn will defeat Democrat Walt Dartland in Florida’s 2nd District, The Associated Press projects. 

Dunn led Dartland 66 percent to 31 percent with 28 percent of precincts reporting. 

He will replace Democratic Rep. Gwen Graham, who decided not to seek re-election after redistricting moved the northwestern Florida district into more Republican territory. 

[Election Results 2016]

Florida’s 2nd District is in the eastern portion of the Florida Panhandle. Redistricting expanded the district’s western border and moved much of the northern territory, including parts of the Tallahassee area, into Florida’s 5th District.

Dunn won a competitive Aug. 30 GOP primary, 41 percent to 39 percent over conservative, Indian-American attorney Mary Thomas.

Coming into Election Day, the race was rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.

Democrats won an earlier version of the district in 2014, with Graham beating Republican Rep. Steve Southerland 50.5 percent to 49.3 percent. Graham is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party and may run for governor in 2018, but she opted not to seek re-election because the newly drawn district is arguably unwinnable for any Democrat.

Dunn has a strong interest in military and veterans issues given his long family history of serving in the armed forces; he served in the Army as a surgeon. His district is also home to Tyndall Air Force Base and many veterans.  

Health care is another area of interest for Dunn. The former medical practice owner is a urologist by training. He wants to replace the 2010 health care law with a market-based approach.

Nathan L. Gonzales contributed to this report. 

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