Former state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota (Pic by Meredith Hill, via myfloridahouse.gov)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched its “Red to Blue” program, which “highlights top Democratic campaigns across the country, and offers them financial, communications, grassroots, and strategic support” and aims to introduce Democratic supporters to new, competitive candidates in order to help expand the fundraising base for these campaigns.

One candidate earning a spot in the program is Florida’s own Keith Fitzgerald, the Sarasota Democrat running to unseat Congressman Vern Buchanan.

According to a press release, Fitzgerald was selected after he “surpassed demanding fundraising, organizing, and infrastructure goals and skillfully demonstrated to voters that he is a thoughtful, solutions-oriented leader who will create jobs and protect the middle class when elected to Congress.”

“Getting named to the Red-to-Blue program is a testament to this community’s desire to see a different kind of leadership in Washington,” Fitzgerald said in a press release. “For too long, we’ve seen a Washington more consumed with what they can do for themselves, rather than how they can serve their nation. This is a huge step in our effort to bring an honest, common sense approach to creating jobs and protecting the commitment made to our greatest generation.”

“Keith Fitzgerald represented one of the most Republican districts in the state legislature, and he knows what it takes to win tough races,” said DCCC Chairman Steve Israel. “Keith Fitzgerald has quickly demonstrated that he has what it takes to win this district that has a history of backing independent, solutions-focused candidates.”

In an interview with The Florida Independent, Fitzgerald said he had no plans to go after his rival for his controversial dealings in past campaigns. Buchanan has been accused numerous times of pressuring employees to donate to his various congressional campaigns, and then reimbursing them with funds from his car dealerships. The allegations have resulted in no less than 14 lawsuits from former employees (none of which have gone to trial), an FEC lawsuit against a former business partner, and investigations by both the Department of Justice and the Office of Congressional Ethics.

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