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Tributes pour in for congressional candidate April Freeman, who died unexpectedly Sunday

Democratic U.S. House candidate April Freeman died unexpectedly Sunday night, according to her family.

She was running in Florida’s 17th Congressional District.

Freeman’s husband David posted the news Monday on Facebook.

“It’s with great sadness that I feel I must inform all of you that my beloved wife April passed away suddenly last night,” he wrote. “To all of her family and friends here on Facebook, my heart aches with you.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo also released a statement on the news.

“April put her heart and soul into her community — and was dedicated to making a better future for all Floridians,” Rizzo said.

“Just last night she was in the office, making calls and working to get out the vote,” she added. “Her work ethic and passion was an inspiration to all of us. It is a tremendous loss to the Democratic Party and to all who knew her.

“Our hearts break for her family and love ones, who are grieving her loss.”

Freeman on Aug. 28 won the Democratic nomination over Bill Pollard.

It’s the second time she’s run in the district. She also ran against incumbent Rep. Tom Rooney in 2016. Rooney this year announced his retirement, and Freeman had hoped for a better shot at victory in the heavily Republican district with an open seat.

“We have a real shot at this,” she said a couple weeks ago. “Two years ago we made Tom Rooney spend $1 million in the last weeks of the campaign and no one has ever done that before.”

In between Congressional runs, Freeman ran for Cape Coral mayor. And in 2014, she ran in Florida’s 19th District after the resignation of Trey Radel.

She previously worked in TV production, including on HBO’s “Hemingway and Gelhorn,” and she ran her own political consulting firm, Freeman & Associates.

Later on Monday, her Republican opponent — state Sen. Greg Steube — said he was cancelling all campaign events next week “out of respect.”

As for the business of the upcoming election, ballots have already been printed out, but state law allows for a replacement nominee.

The Florida Democratic Party in coming days will work with county chairs and executive committees on consideration of any nominees who come forward.

After a nominee in named, election officials will post a note in voting booths and send it with in mail-in-ballots that votes for Freeman will now count for the designated nominee, according to Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner.

JoAnne DeVries, chairman of the Sarasota Democratic Party, said Freeman will be missed. “She was such a sweetie,” DeVries said. “She loved being a candidate even if her health got in the way in the last few months.”

Pollard, whom Freeman beat in the Democratic primary, said: “Although we were contenders for the same nomination, I am saddened. We shared mostly the same political ideals and we a few times talked on the sidelines about them. My condolences go out to her loved ones, especially her husband, David.”

Freeman was 54. WINK News reports she is survived by her husband, two children and two grandchildren.

Other politicians in the region also expressed sadness at the news.

David Holden, Florida’s 19th Congressional District:

David Shapiro, Florida’s 16th Congressional District:

Sean Shaw, Attorney General candidate:

Ruta Jouniari, Sarasota County Commission candidate and former state House candidate:

Erika Lundquist, former Manatee County Commission candidate:

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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