Fort Myers Republican Heather Fitzenhagen says she will vote for Sen. Wilton Simpson to be Senate President next year. But she’s starting to think Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer is pulling the strings in her Senate GOP primary.
“It seems to me that Gary Farmer and the Democrats must be getting a lot of pleasure stirring this pot and making it appear the Republicans don’t have solidarity,” she said.
The comments came the same day the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee aired ads slamming Fitzenhagen’s record on abortion and immigration. The spot began appearing on cable in Senate District 27 Friday.
Florida Politics reported earlier this month Farmer, expected to become Senate President if Democrats regain control of the chamber, asked Democrat Rachel Brown to bow out of the race. That would allow Democrats and independents to vote in an open primary, something that presumably would benefit Fitzenhagen over Ray Rodrigues, who secured the endorsement of Republican Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson last year.
Fitzenhagen doesn’t completely buy the story about Farmer’s meddling. “Is that made up too?” she said. “What I do know is all of this is to the benefit of Gary Farmer and not to the Republicans.”
The FRSCC also issued a memo Friday saying Fitzenhagen refused to commit to supporting a Republican for Senate President.
Asked directly afterward if she will support Wilton Simpson as President, Fitzenahagen said, “absolutely.”
“I have no intention of voting for anyone who is not a Republican.”
Fitzenhagen called the advertisement “a beautiful piece of fiction.” She said contrary to the content, she opposes late-term abortions and sanctuary cities. While the ad cites votes she cast regarding bills limiting both practices, she said those had to do with finer points of legislation.
“These bills have a lot of information in them,” she said.
“To assert I am soft on immigration is a fallicy,” she said.
But more than anything, Fitzenhagen said it frustrates her to see Senate Republican leadership spend any money in a primary for a GOP-leaning district.
“I would say that it’s unfortunate they don’t believe in a democracy that would allow voters to make the decision who is elected in Senate District 27 and that they feel it’s their duty to make that determination,” Fitzenhagen said.
“But second, I believe it’s a disservice to all Republicans running. We have some very tight races across the state against the Democrats that we need to win. I feel badly if money that could be allocated to help those Republicans win were to be spent on a safe Republican seat.”
District 27 at last book closing was home to 153,782 registered Republicans, 100,381 Democrats and 105,938 no-party-affiliation voters.