Ray Rodrigues ready for ‘next chapter,’ announces state Senate bid
Ray Rodrigues keeps lining up endorsements for his Senate bid. Image via Phil Sears.

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Representative boasts endorsements from Lizbeth Benacquisto, Dane Eagle.

State Rep. Ray Rodrigues on Wednesday became the first candidate to file for Florida Senate in District 27.

“I am excited to embark on the next chapter of service to our community,” Rodrigues said in an official announcement.

“We have accomplished great things during my time in the Florida House and I look forward to building on that foundation in the State Senate.”

In an interview with Florida Politics, Rodrigues said he’s seriously contemplated running for the seat for about a year.

Facing term limits in the House and living in a district with a Senate seat opening up, Rodrigues said the biggest questions surrounded his outside personal and professional obligations.

After discussions with wife, Ruth, he decided the moment seemed a good one in his personal and professional career.

Rodrigues serves as director of community relations for Florida Gulf Coast University.

He jumps in with the endorsement of outgoing state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto. The Fort Myers Republican cannot run again because of term limits.

“For nearly a decade our Southwest Florida legislative delegation has worked as a unified team to bring immense success to our community and Ray Rodrigues has been a trusted, integral member of the team,” Benacquisto said.

“Ray has proven time and again that he has the ability, knowledge and integrity to continue delivering for Southwest Florida as a member of the Florida Senate.”

He also announced his candidacy boasts the support of state Rep. Dane Eagle, a Cape Coral Republican and another rumored contender for the seat.

“I’m honored beyond words he’s going to be supportive of my efforts,” Rodrigues said of Eagle.

“We were friends before we came into the Legislature, and we’ve worked together well. It’s a tremendous honor to have someone of his stature supporting me.”

Eagle served this year as House Republican Leader in Tallahassee, a job Rodrigues previously held. The two also serve together on the Lee County Legislative Delegation.

“I have witnessed his tremendous leadership and fearless resolve on many difficult and complex issues,” Eagle said in a statement endorsing Rodrigues.

“I trust Ray to stay true to his conservative principles and to always fight for Southwest Florida.”

Some political leaders hoped to recruit Rodrigues into local politics, such as running for Lee County Commission. But Rodrigues said he ultimately holds more interest in Tallahassee.

“I’m flattered people are interested in seeing me serve in that capacity, but that’s not an opportunity I had an interest in pursuing,” he said. “I believe in the policies I have been working on at the state level.”

Rodrigues said he still has plenty to do during his last session in the House.

That includes pushing for a THC cap on smokeable medical marijuana, something he figures died in the Senate because of time pressures more than philosophical differences.

But there’s plenty of legislative policy goals with long-term ramifications. He would like to follow through on those as a Senator.

In his announcement, he stressed environmental issues. That’s especially important in a district that dealt with red tide and blue-green algae blooms last year.

“Whether funding local water quality projects, supporting Everglades restoration, working to increase Florida’s use of solar and renewable energy or identifying the need for coastal resiliency, protecting our environment has remained a legislative priority for me” Rodrigues stated.

“Our state has prospered due to sound fiscal policies and I will continue to fight to reduce the size and scope of government, cut taxes and keep government transparent and accountable to the people it was created to serve.“

Rodrigues became the first candidate to formally announce for the position. But he’s prepared for a contest in the primary or general election.

“From my experience in the House, I had a contested election every single time,” he said. He hopes that prepares him for running in a larger district.

Jacob Ogles

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 [email protected].


  • ISayNay

    May 20, 2019 at 8:54 am

    Why is he still pursuing the 10% cap? No voters asked King Ray to overrule voters, patients and doctors and force his arbitrary cap on one random form of cannabis. The Senate clearly isn’t interested, but here he goes again. Stop wasting taxpayers’ money on this trash, Ray.

    The free market you and your friends in this article are so fond of has been shut out of MMJ because of you. The voters may not be paying attention to the games you’re playing, but I and a large group of Florida medical patients are sure to make your upcoming run a lot less of a sure bet than you expected. You are a craven hypocrite.

    • No Ray R.

      May 20, 2019 at 3:40 pm

      Yes, I agree. Not Ray!

  • SaynotoRay

    May 21, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    Hello NO to Ray. We had to sue the state for almost two years before smokable flower was allowed and days later Ray Rodrigues tried to cap this. He even tried to slip this amendment into other bills and thankfully was unsuccessful in getting the Senate to agree due to FFC communicating and many of your efforts in calling and emailing your reps!

    However, last week he again said he will be back with the SAME 10% CAP and EVEN WORSE AMENDMENTS NEXT YEAR! He will also run for Senate!

  • NoWayToRay

    May 22, 2019 at 3:02 am

    For those of you who don’t remember, he advanced the House version of the MMJ bill back in 2016, that was written by and for Drug Free Florida’s Calvina Fay. That version of the bill allowed no smoking, no vaping, no edibles. It was a complete joke.

    It would be wise to keep a good eye on who bankrolls his run for Senate. Dollars to donuts it will be from organizations who stand to profit from continued prohibition.

    He used to tow the line that “smoking is not a healthy act, so it should be banned from MMJ”. Well…. if that is really how he feels, then why the 10% cap? Patients would have to smoke MORE at a 10% cap, not to mention spend more money.

    He is a tool.

Comments are closed.


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