Warwick native Michael McKenna recently won the Democratic primary election for Florida’s 10th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, beating opponents Shayan Modarres and William Ferree. The election was held Aug. 26.
McKenna garnered 49.9 percent of the vote in a decisive victory. He said he only spent $5,000 on his campaign, compared to his opponents who spent closer to $40,000 and $50,000.
McKenna, who grew up in the Gaspee neighborhood, off Narragansett Parkway, and graduated from Bishop Hendricken High School, spent 14 years in the U.S. Navy.
In 2010, McKenna, a chief petty officer, was assigned to Florida.
“We grew to like it,” McKenna said of the sunshine state. “My wife and I got jobs at Disney [World] and we got comfortable.”
McKenna said he decided to get involved in politics after “seeing a lot of things I wasn’t happy with” in the military.
“After my time in the service and seeing the direction of things, I felt it was time to jump into the political arena,” he said. “Soldiers were being fired and receiving nothing but a small severance package after making $50,000 a year. They couldn’t find money for that?”
McKenna said he hopes to bring forth the right representation for the district, which covers central Florida around Orland, including Orange County, Lake County and Polk County.
“I want to put more money in the pockets of the American people,” he said. “I want to give everyone a fair shot at life and make things better instead of a complete stalemate in Congress.”
McKenna said he would also like to improve affordable health care, minimum wage and help small businesses.
McKenna said he ran a grass roots campaign, spending eight months going door to door throughout the area.
“It’s fantastic,” McKenna said when asked how he felt to win the primary. “The results let me know that personal touch is what people are looking for.”
McKenna said this is the first time he’s run for political office and called it an eye-opening experience.
“It let me see the richest and poorest parts of the congressional district and everything in between,” he said. “It opened my eyes to things you don’t always see on TV.”
McKenna now faces incumbent Republican Daniel Webster in the Nov. 4 General Election.