Matt Gaetz, GOP congressman, pressed to leave Florida to seek Senate seat in neighboring Alabama

April 5, 2019 GMT

Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, is facing calls to move across state lines to compete in 2020 for one Alabama’s seats in the U.S. Senate, he acknowledged Thursday.

Several lawmakers said that Mr. Gaetz, a sophomore congressman fiercely supportive of President Trump, has been asked to run in next year’s race for the position currently held by Sen. Doug Jones, Alabama Democrat, The Hill first reported.

Citing unnamed sources close to the congressman, the report said that “people in Trump’s orbit” are personally urging Mr. Gaetz, 36, to make use of Alabama’s lax rules that allow anyone over the age of 30 to run in the Senate race as long as they have lived in the state for at least one day.

Mr. Gaetz recognized those pleas in an interview but indicated he plans at this point to run for a third term representing part of the Florida panhandle in the House.

“I had a few people make mention to me that Alabama has a very short residency requirement, but it’s not something I’ve looked at myself,” said Mr. Gaetz, The Hill reported. “I think that my most likely path would be to seek reelection in the House.”

Rep. Bradley Byrne, Alabama Republican, previously said he plans to run next year for the seat Mr. Jones’ seat in the Senate.

Mr. Gaetz “hasn’t said anything to me,” Mr. Byrne told The Hill, the website reported.

“In today’s world of politics, who the hell knows what’s going to happen,” added Mr. Jones, according to the report.

Mr. Gaetz has been among the president’s fiercest defenders on Capitol Hill since taking office in early 2017. He regularly attacked special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 race as a “witch hunt,” and he was among a group of only four Republicans who voted “present” when the House voted 420-0 last month in support of publicly releasing the results of that probe.

Mr. Jones, 64, was elected to the Senate as the result of a special election held in 2017 after Jeff Sessions stepped down to serve as Mr. Trump’s attorney general through late last year.