For the first time in more than 15 years, the more than 700,000 residents of Florida’s first congressional district have new representation in Washington, as the 115th Congress convened Tuesday and freshman Republican Matt Gaetz was sworn in.

The former Florida state representative defeated a sea of fellow Republicans as well as Democrat Steven Specht for the right to succeed outgoing Congressman Jeff Miller, who announced last year he would retire at the end of his eighth term in Congress.

Gaetz’s first official vote in Congress was to reelect Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. as the Speaker of the House. Ryan easily won reelection on a party line vote, receiving all but one Republican vote in the GOP-controlled chamber.

Gaetz, right, debates Democratic challenger Steven Specht, left, during the run-up to last November’s general election. (Drew Buchanan/Special to The Pulse)

Earlier, Gaetz was in the minority as he voted against a proposal to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics at a closed-door Republican conference on Monday night. The proposal, which passed on Monday night despite opposition from Republican leadership, was withdrawn on Tuesday after President-elect Donald Trump criticized the move.

“I’m an ethics hawk,” Gaetz told Newsradi0 1620 on Tuesday. “I don’t think the ethics laws can ever be strong enough.”

Gaetz’s district office will be located in downtown Pensacola, on the sixth floor of Seville Tower, located at 226 South Palafox Street. Also on Tuesday, Gaetz’s congressional website went live at


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