Eddie Tarazona of Tarazona Cigars has announced that he is launching a candidacy for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Tarazona has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and is running as a Republican for Florida’s newly-created 18th Congressional District, an area that covers a large amount of land to the west and northwest of Lake Okeechobee in central Florida. In a Tweet announcing his candidacy, Tarazona called himself a conservative leader that is “pro-Constitution, pro-family, pro-freedom and pro-you,” who promised to “take the fight to the establishment and stand for Florida and #AmericaFirst.”

He said he plans to launch his website on Monday, which will contain more details about his candidacy.

As for his cigar company, Tarazona told halfwheel that he will continue to run it during his campaign, but acknowledged that should he win, he will likely be handing off a chunk of the day-to-day duties. He said that he feels this is an opportunity to serve his country, much like he did during his time in the U.S. Army. He added that he thinks having a person from the premium cigar industry in Congress will help the chances of pushing back against FDA regulation and other issues facing the industry, as well as provide a perspective as to how a healthy and thriving cigar industry would help the conditions in countries where cigars are produced, which in turn could help with international stability and immigration issues.

Tarazona said that he is the only candidate to have entered the race for the District 18 seat, though both federal and state records still show multiple candidates for the seat. That appears to be related to a recent redistricting of Florida’s congressional districts and a lag in getting the websites of both the Federal Elections Commission and the Florida Department of State caught up with the changes. However, several of the candidates listed for the District 18 seat have already updated their own websites to show that they are running for other districts following that redrawing of the map.

It is that redrawing that might also present another challenge for Tarazona, as legal challenges have arisen after the state’s legislature recently approved the revised map of its districts, a plan that was pushed for and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis amidst a significant amount of controversy. The governor and Republican legislators have been accused of gerrymandering the districts to reduce the influence of Black voters throughout the state while making the vast majority of districts into Republican strongholds. Additionally, there has been speculation that DeSantis pushed for the changes to help ensure he would win Florida’s electoral votes should he run for president in 2024. His changes created a new, heavily Republican district, as well as moved three districts considered to be highly competitive into ones with a significant partisan lean. The net effect has been forecast at a gain of four seats in the House for the GOP.

Voting rights groups, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, Equal Ground Education Fund and others, have already filed a lawsuit in state court over the redistricting. They say the new map violates the state’s constitution as it dilutes the voting power of minorities while also being drawn to directly benefit one political party. A federal lawsuit is also expected to be filed, though the generally slow speed at which the court system moves may prevent a decision from being rendered prior to the upcoming elections. The groups have also filed a request for a temporary injunction, though that is centered around another district in northern Florida.

The Florida primary election is scheduled for Aug. 23, with the winning candidates advancing to the general election on Nov. 8.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.