Incumbent state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen reported a modest increase in dollars in early September, but still holds a hefty cash advantage over Democratic challenger Parisima Taeb.
Fitzenhagen, a Fort Myers Republican representing Florida House District 78 since 2012, pulled in just $1,400 in early September, less than $200 more than the $1,242 raised by Taeb in the same time. But the incumbent holds about $95,211 in cash on hand to the Democrat’s $18,776. And she’s hosting a fundraiser at Bell Tower Shops in South Fort Myers today.
Fitzenhagen recently sat alongside Republican gubernatorial candidate during a meeting at Florida Gulf Coast University where he spoke with academic leaders about red tide.
Taeb, meanwhile, has served on roundtables on the subject of algal blooms put together by Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the region. The medical doctor has been part of a Democratic trio of candidates campaigning heavily in Southwest Florida on science issues at a time when both red tide and blue-green algae deliver a brutal hit to the region’s ecosystem and economy.
But Fitzenhagen remains a leader within her own party. She claimed the Civil Justice committee in the Florida House last session and would enter her last term in the state House before term limits force her retirement.
Neither Fitzenhagen nor Taeb faces primary challenges this year. Thus far, Fitzenhagen spent more than $148,000 on her re-election, while Taeb has spent more than $5,000.
Since her election to the district in 2012, Fitzenhagen has never faced a Democratic candidate on the November ballot. In 2012, she defeated Independent Kerry Babb with 67 percent of the vote to his 33 percent.
Taeb, a Fort Myers physician, earned media attention this year as one of multiple Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School graduates running for office in the wake of a national shooting at the school in February.
Republican Donald Trump won this House district with 53 percent of the vote over Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 42 percent.