Southwest Florida’s Republican heavy hitters lined up early behind Jenna Persons in the contest to succeed state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen.
Persons, a Fort Myers lawyer who filed Feb. 1 in District 78, kicks off her campaign Feb. 25 at the Marina at Edison Ford. Fitzenhagen, also an attorney, is term-limited in 2020.
The host committee includes top political faces including state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, House Republican Leader Dane Eagle and state Rep. Ray Rodrigues.
The Fort Myers Republican stressed her community roots as she announced the kickoff event.
“As a fifth generation Southwest Floridian, I understand the challenges and opportunities facing our community and I am ready to make the tough choices needed to keep us safe, prosperous and thriving,” Persons said.
“I will take a stand for hardworking families and small business owners to keep our taxes low and eliminate job-killing regulations that hurt our economy.”
Persons laid out an agenda promising support for law enforcement and low taxes, while also promising to address water quality issues.
“I will fight to protect our water, ensure access to world-class education opportunities for our children and quality healthcare for our people,” she said. “I will stand with our brave law enforcement officers and first responders who put their lives on the line to keep our neighborhoods safe.”
Persons, a name-partner at the Strayhorn & Persons law firm, has long been active in Republican politics in the region. She unsuccessfully ran for Mayor of Fort Myers at age 26. A decade later, she’s now seeking a spot in the state House.
Persons to date faces only fellow Republican Roger Lolly, founder of the If I Can Dream Foundation. But her host committee announcement shows influential political forces lining up early behind Persons’ candidacy.
In addition to the marquee lawmakers topping the host committee, four of five Lee County Commissioners were listed on the list. So were Lee Sheriff Carmine Marceno and State Attorney Amira Fox. State Rep. Spencer Roach, a North Fort Myers Republican, also signed on.
Eagle said he has known Persons for years and he sees promise in her as a legislator.
“She’s a professional who cares about the area, and she has an energy that will serve the community very well,” he said. “She’s someone that will do a tremendous job up here and I trust her.”
And Benacquisto called Persons “a dear friend.”
“Jenna cares about our community, the environment and the issues important to Southwest Florida and I am confident she will work tirelessly on our behalf,” the senator said.