Meet the Candidates

Brian Mast

brian_mastCongressman Brian Mast is currently serving in his first term representing the 18th District of Florida in Congress. Prior to serving in Congress, he followed in his father’s footsteps and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served for more than 12 years, including under the elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) as a bomb disposal expert where his mission was protecting his fellow soldiers from the war’s most deadly weapon, the improvised explosive device (IED). This meant placing himself directly in the line of fire on each and every mission.

During his time in service he was awarded medals for valor, merit, and sacrifice, to include The Bronze Star Medal,The Army Commendation Medal for Valor, The Purple Heart Medal, and The Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

While he was able to detect and destroy most of these IED’s, the very last IED he found resulted in sustained catastrophic injuries, which included the loss of both of his legs. After he awoke from injury in Walter Reed Army Medical Center, his focus was singular: get better, get back to work, and get back to serving America. He decided he was not going to let the best defense he had given our country be in his past. Each day after consisted of 8 grueling hours of physical therapy. In addition to recovery and his ongoing military duties, he also provided his expertise to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms (ATF).

Following retirement from the Army, Congressman Mast continued to work in counter terrorism and national defense as an Explosive Specialist under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In 2015, he also volunteered to serve alongside the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to show support for the freedom Israel represents throughout the Middle East and the world. With the help of the G.I. Bill, he graduated from Harvard University with a bachelors degree in extension studies.

In Congress, he uses his military expertise as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and strives to serve in Congress as he did on the battlefield: without regard for personal gain or personal sacrifice.

As Vice Chairman of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, he has made fighting for our waterways his #1 top priority, successfully passing legislation to authorize the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir, force a redo of the schedule the Army Corps uses to determine when it discharges water and develop technology to combat toxic algal blooms.

He also serves as a Member of the Veterans Affairs Committee and opened the first-ever Congressional office inside a VA facility at the West Palm Beach VA.

Congressman Mast lives in Palm City with his wife and three children.

Lauren Baer

lauren_baerLauren Baer is a resident of Florida’s 18th Congressional District, where she was raised. An attorney and foreign policy expert, Lauren served as an official in the Obama Administration from 2011-2017, acting as a senior advisor to two secretaries of State and to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Earlier in her career, Lauren was a litigator whose practice focused on international disputes and federal appeals. As an attorney committed to justice and fairness, she had an active pro bono practice that included successfully convincing the U.S. Supreme Court to limit the reach of Citizens United.

Lauren comes from a family of local business owners who taught her the value of a strong Florida economy and the importance of public service. Her extended family owns and operates Baer’s Furniture, which was founded by her great-grandparents and has been providing home furnishings to families in the region since the late 1960s. After spending time in the family business, her father founded a commercial real estate company, which he operates from Palm Beach Gardens. Like multiple generations of her family before her, Lauren is an active supporter of charitable causes and the State of Israel.

Lauren holds a B.A. from Harvard University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and an MPhil from the University of Oxford, where she was a Marshall Scholar. She is also a proud graduate of Palm Beach County public schools, where she earned recognition as a valedictorian of Suncoast Community High School.

Lauren currently lives in Palm Beach Gardens and works as a consultant for Albright Stonebridge Group, the global strategy firm founded by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She and her wife Emily live in Palm Beach Gardens with their daughter Serena, and their dog, Biscuit.