BROOKSVILLE — Two challengers have filed to unseat U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent, a Spring Hill Republican who started his second term four months ago.
The political newcomers live at opposite ends of District 11 and are at very different points in their lives.
Matthew Schnackenberg is a 25-year-old college student from Masaryktown and a member of the Libertarian Party of Florida. Michael Uminski, 68, lives in the Villages and plans to challenge Nugent in the Republican primary.
Uminski said he has thought for years about running for office and decided to make a bid now that he's retired.
"We've got to take the country back from the politicians," he said. "The good congressman hasn't been doing his job."
Born and raised in Michigan, Uminski served in the Army from 1967 to 1970 and earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Wayne State University.
He spent 22 years at General Motors, working his way up to engineering manager before retiring in 2009. He and his wife, Kathy, have owned a home in the Villages since 2000 and in September became full-time Florida residents.
Schnackenberg, who goes by the nickname "Schnacky," was born in Clearwater and has lived for the last 16 years in Masaryktown, a tiny hamlet just north of the Hernando-Pasco border. He is studying business administration at Pasco-Hernando Community College and expects to earn an associate's degree by spring 2014.
Schnackenberg is chairman of the newly formed Libertarian Party of Hernando County, which became an official affiliate of the state party in February.
"It's the party that most fits my views of limited government and individual rights," he said. "I don't like where this nation is going, so I figured I'd put my name out there, spread the issues and hopefully win and move the country in the right direction."
Nugent said "it's safe to assume that I will run again."
"My job right now, the job that the people of the 11th District elected me to do, is to get some results bringing our budget back onto a sustainable path and making sure that Americans who are willing to work have a decent opportunity to do so," he said.
District 11 includes all of Hernando, Citrus and Sumter counties and a portion of Marion County.
Reach Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.