Former sheriff wins 7-man Republican race for open congressional seat

District 4 represents Nassau, most of Duval, St. Johns counties


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sheriff John Rutherford appears headed to Congress. The retired Jacksonville sheriff dominated a seven-way Republican contest for the U.S. House District 4 seat and is expected to have an easy path to being northeast Florida's newest member of Congress despite having a Democrat on the ballot in November.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw is not seeking re-election, leaving Florida's 4th Congressional District an open seat.

Ruthford won 39 percent of the vote, with state Rep. Lake Ray drawing 20 percent, Hans Tanzler at 19 percent, Bill McClure with 10 percent, Ed Malin 7 percent and Stephen Kaufman and Deborah Katz Pueschel both at 2 percent.

"I think it is going to be critical that we go to Washington, D.C., with a mandate from the people. That's why I think a win of this magnitude is important going forward," Rutherford said. 

Rutherford advances to the November general election and will face Democrat David Bruderly and NPA candidate Gary Koniz.

RELATED: Candidate profiles for District 4 Republican primary

Ray said Tuesday that his campaign had been to 65,000 homes, talking to voters.

"It's been a very exciting race, getting a chance to meet a lot of people all across this great district,” Ray said. “People are really concerned about where we are as a nation, very concerned about not just the nation, things going on here locally. it's been a great opportunity to go and talk and meet everyone that's out.”

Tanzler said Tuesday that he hopes citizens won't be casual about voting.

“We have to get out and vote. It's an obligation. It's an obligation as an American. We're built on democracy, and you've got to elect the right representative,” Tanzler said. “Your vote matters."

Rutherford said he was ready to serve the district, which covers Nassau County, as well as much of Duval and northern St. Johns counties. 

"I believe you have to give representation to everyone from Hastings to Hilliard," Rutherford said. "Is about 650,000 constituents. So I looked forward to serving them -- all of them."