Breaking with much of Florida’s political establishment, Rep. Brian Mast endorsed Fort Myers Heather Fitzenhagen for Senate District 27.
“There are far too few leaders in Florida willing to stand up to the special interest bullies that manipulate Florida’s waterways and elections for their own personal profit,” Mast said.
“While other politicians cower in fear, Heather Fitzenhagen has proven that she is willing to go up against the sugar industry to fight for Florida’s waterways. I urge all voters who care about stopping toxic discharges and combatting harmful algal blooms to vote for Heather.”
Fitzenhagen promised if elected to make the environment a top priority.
“I am excited to partner with Representative Mast as a Florida State Senator to combat harmful agents to our water,” Fitzenhagen said. “We need leadership on both the state and federal level to care deeply about the resource that powers our economy and our everyday lives, not self-important, deep-pocket politicians that play games, spread lies, and are propped up by the industries that carelessly seek to destroy our waterways without remorse.”
Fitzenhagen faces Estero Republican Ray Rodrigues in a GOP primary in Senate District 27. Democrat Rachel Brown will face the Republican nominee.
The environmental attack seems especially notable considering push polling released by Fitzenhagen’s campaign. Remington Research Group asked poll respondents questions labeling Rodrigues as “Sugar Ray” and a politician “beholden to the Florida sugar lobby.” The poll found 60% of respondents were less likely to support Rodrigues after learning he accepted money from agriculture and phosphate mining.
Mast has long fought with those interests himself, particularly related to nutrient discharges into the St. Lucie River, which courses through Mast’s Congressional District, and the Caloosahatchee River, that border Fitzenhagen’s current state House district.
Critics say the pollution contributed to blue-green algal blooms that ravaged communities along both rivers in 2018.
Also notable, Mast is a close political ally of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has made water quality improvement a signature piece of his agenda. DeSantis appointed a special task force to address blue-green algae concerns.