A conservative activist with a history of conflict with Rep. Spencer Roach just challenged the lawmaker in a Republican primary.
Randy Scott, who runs the Facebook Group People of SWFL, filed on Thursday for House District 79.
“This district has been managed by parties outside it for years,” Scott said. “Roach moved in to North Fort Myers… to run in it. Lehigh Acres and North Fort Myers are underserved community in the political process. I am running to represent a new deal where the people have an advocate that loves this community and defends its development for its people.”
Scott in the past heavily criticized Roach for championing revenue increases in the Lehigh Acre Fire District. That included Roach securing a $1.25 million appropriation in the state budget this year to assist with the costs of a new fire station.
“Mr. Scott has been my most vocal and strident critic since I was elected two years ago. His opposition to my efforts in support of our law local enforcement and firefighters is well documented,” Roach said.
“And that’s the beauty of our republic — if you do not feel you are being adequately represented, you have the ability to run for office and oust those whom you feel are not serving the public interest. I look forward to a full presentation of both of our records to the voters of District 79, and I will respect their judgment on whether I should continue to serve as their voice in Tallahassee.”
But the dispute between the two men hasn’t always stuck to fiscal matters and policy differences.
Roach in January called Sheriff’s Deputies to Scott’s home alleging the activist physically threatened him through a social media post. Shortly after a U.S. drone killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Scott compared Roach and other local Republicans to the dead military figure and his surrounding support system.
The post in question read: “We are getting closer and closer to the day of reckoning for domestic enemies being brought to justice and they know it.”
Shortly afterward, Scott filed a federal lawsuit against Roach alleging the lawmaker was suppressing his free speech.
That stemmed from the fact Roach deleted Scott’s comments from an official Facebook page the lawmaker was using to interact with constituents. Scott had leveled criticism of Roach in response to a post on a recent trip with other officials to the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve.
Roach, a North Fort Myers Republican, won a primary in 2018 over Matt Miller with 59% of the vote. He went on to beat Democrat Mark Lipton, also with 59%.
Scott in 2018 ran for Lee Memorial Health Board, where he lost in District 4 to Diane Champion, receiving 21% to her 43% in a three-person race.
Candidates for state House must qualify by noon on June 12. In addition to Scott and Roach, Democrat Danika Fornear also filed for the seat. She is challenging Roach on his environmental record, including sponsoring a bill preempting sunscreen bans like one in Key West.