Former Tequesta Councilman and Vice Mayor Calvin Turnquest is the latest Republican looking to beat the man who beat Col. Allen West in Florida’s Congressional District 18.
Turnquest now joins a growing field of GOP candidates vying to challenge the freshman Democratic incumbent, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.
Turnquest told BizPac Review Tuesday, he has filed his paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, but due to the government shutdown, it is unknown when it will be accepted.
No stranger to politics, Turnquest served three terms as Tequesta councilman before resigning for an unsuccessful run for the Florida House’s 82nd District in 2012.
However, Turnquest is the first to say he is not a politician.
“I’m a down-to-earth guy who wants to represent people from the local level on up,” Turnquest told BizPac Review.
“I hate top-down governing,” he said. “I do not believe people in Washington or Tallahassee should be telling people who their candidate will be.”
And if his popularity is an indicator, Turnquest’s message is resounding among grass-roots conservatives.
Outside of his work as the Executive Director for Concerned Bahamians Abroad, he is the chairman of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County’s Black Caucus.
Turnquest currently serves as a board member and chapter leader of the Palm Beach County Tea Party, but he was originally advised by a consultant not to say too much about his position with the group.
Turnquest balked and chose loyalty over politics.
“I am a tea party member, and I will wear that on my sleeve,” he told BizPac Review. “These are people who are passionate and working for all of us, and I will not distance myself from that.”
The members of the tea party are “my friends and I will not abandon them,” he added. “I will defend and represent them, as I plan to represent Republicans of all beliefs.”
Turnquest grew up in a unique environment. He was born in Nassau, Bahamas, and raised in “two environments: the church and politics.”
His father served as attaché to three Bahamian governor-generals, and his mother was the daughter of a minister and granddaughter of the Church of God’s founder.
Turnquest came to the United States to attend college at the University of Miami, which is where he met his wife while earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.
Turnquest said his upbringing taught him to make decisions based on thought, not emotion.
“If you govern on emotions, most times you make mistakes,” Turnquest said.
He said he has followed advice he once heard from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who said that politicians too often govern by heart and emotion.
“When you govern on thought, you see things from all points of view and make decisions for the best,” Turnquest said.
Turnquest now joins the primary race with announced Republican candidates Ellen Andel, Carl Domino, Ilya Katz and Alan Schlesinger.
Turnquest said he would be meeting with U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, and is expected to meet House Speaker John Boehner in Washington, D.C., later this month.
He also has been reaching out to elected officials in the district to introduce himself.
“My father always told me, ‘Before you walk in a man’s backyard, you must first knock on the front door and introduce yourself,’” he said.