On Friday, 23-year-old Latino student Armani Salado launched his campaign website in his run for Congress representing Florida’s 7th Congressional District. He is the first Republican in the race, challenging Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.). Salado told PJ Media his run was inspired by his desire to fight the threat of Venezuela-style “socialism and tyranny” coming to the United States.
“The stories I’ve heard from South America paint a grim tale of what awaits America if we accept socialism as the means to govern,” Salado, who has met Venezuelan ex-pats at church and whose parents came from the Dominican Republic, told PJ Media.
“Friends from church tell us about the life they had back home, especially in Venezuela, how they had to flee their country because of the terror their government enacted,” the candidate said. “I want my generation, my home, and this great nation to know that what he have here in America is special, and it shouldn’t be negotiated or traded in for something as disturbing and inhumane as socialism and tyranny.”
Salado attends church at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Altamonte Springs, Fla. “There we have church friends who had to leave Venezuela during the Chavez regime,” he told PJ Media. “The father was a government official and the mother was a daughter [of a government official]. When Chavez started killing off political opponents and stealing the wealth of others for his own officials, these two parents and their kids fled Venezuela in fear of their own safety.”
“We see this all the time in Venezuela, South America, and places that adopt a socialist ideology. There are so many stories I’ve heard growing up that it’s hard to pick one and be specific because at the end of the story it’s all the same: if it wasn’t for socialism I would still be at home living my normal life,” the candidate said.
“It’s a tragedy Democrats want to eradicate America’s way of life with what we’ve already seen fail so many times!”
Opposition to socialism is one of Salado’s eleven-point platform in his run for Congress.
“As the continued brutalization of the Venezuelan people is committed by Dictator Maduro and his regime, it adds fuel to my fire and drive to make sure America never becomes a dystopian failure,” Salado’s website declares. “In Congress, I will stand strong against socialist ideas that the Democrats are trying to implement into our government and society. As a member of the Latino community, I hear heart breaking stories of families, educators, doctors, and children who have fled their homes because of socialism.”
“As Americans, and as your Congressman if elected, it is our duty to keep Socialism outside our borders and away from the progress we are making as a community and country,” the section concludes.
The 23-year-old candidate also supports defending Florida’s environment, reforming America’s immigration system, upholding Americans’ constitutional rights as established by the Founding Fathers, defending America’s national security, supporting pro-life legislation, helping the State of Israel, and reducing taxes.
In addition to these conventional Republican positions, Salado supports a dialogue on mental health issues, the legalization of marijuana, and reforms to speed up infrastructure construction.
“When the government is too big and the private sector is too small, the ability to expand employment and stimulate the economy crumbles,” Salado wrote. “Florida is a low tax state and will remain a low tax state with me as a voice in Congress.”
This strong yet innovative conservative stance may make Salado a powerful force in the Republican primary, should any other candidates enter the race.
The candidate will graduate from the University of Central Florida (UCF) next summer. He earned an associate’s degree at Seminole State College and transferred to UCF to save money. While he is 23, he will turn 24 this June and 25 next year, meeting the age requirement for the House of Representatives.
Salado is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in history.
“So many leaders, writers, artists, creators of the past have left us their recipes for success. The Roman Republic, the Greek City States, and empires of the ancient world have left so much for us to unravel and decipher that if we only take a slight look, it will enlighten us so much,” Salado told PJ Media. “I draw my inspiration for politics from those who have served in the public arena before me: Cicero, Cato the Younger, Alexander the Great, the Chinese emperors, the Persian kings, JFK, Ronald Reagan etc. History to me is the best aspect of humanity.”
Rep. Stephanie Murphy, the incumbent Salado will face in November 2020 if he wins the Republican primary, defeated Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) in 2016 with 51.5 percent against Mica’s 48.5 percent. She won re-election by a larger margin in 2018.
Salado is likely a long shot, as other Republicans should enter the race. Even if he wins the primary, he will face an incumbent. His youth will likely be a serious disadvantage. That said, his novel approach may make him a strong contender.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.