Ocala businessman will challenge Congressman Rich Nugent next year

Ocala businessman David Koller has announced he will challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent in next year’s election.

Koller said he has grown increasingly frustrated with the partisan gridlock in national politics.

David Koller

David Koller

“I tell my children that if you feel you can effect change for the better, then you have an obligation to do it,” the married father of four told the Tampa Bay Times. “This is a calling.”

A native of Port Jefferson, N.Y., Koller moved to Florida in 1996 to work as a supported living coach for Arc Marion Inc. Two years later, he founded his own company, now called Developmental Service Trainers.

Koller describes himself as a social progressive and fiscal conservative who would make a jobs bill a priority to improve the nation’s schools and infrastructure. He said the Tea Party’s obstructionists have hijacked the Republican Party and that Nugent’s voting record on the debt ceiling and the budget have hurt underprivileged people in his district.

“I ran as a conservative, was elected as a conservative, and I vote as a conservative.  I believe in a balanced budget, I believe in the Fair Tax, and as we’re seeing with healthcare, more government isn’t the solution to all of our problems.  But being conservative doesn’t mean that I can’t or won’t work with Democrats where there is common ground,” Nugent said in response to the announcement of Koller’s candidacy.

“I am the lead House sponsor of mental health legislation with Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), I’m the lead Republican on veterans’ health legislation with Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), I’m working with Rep. Kathy Castor on tax fraud and military issues affecting our state.  The list goes on and on.  I am proud of my record standing up for conservative principles and continuing to move the ball forward on concrete issues that we can find agreement on.  As the representative for allof the people in the 11th District, that’s what they expect from me.  It’s an honor to serve and when the campaign actually gets started next year, I look forwarded to a spirited debate with Mr. Koller about where the people of the 11th District stand on the size and scope of government,” Nugent said.

The 11th Congressional District includes Hernando, Citrus and Sumter counties and a portion of Marion County.