Heather Fitzenhagen says Republican leadership is lying about her immigration record
Heather Fitzenhagen.

Fitzenhagen horizontal
Senate candidate says she has always opposed sanctuary cities.

The friction between Fort Myers Republican Heather Fitzenhagen and GOP leadership in the Senate continues to ramp up.

The Senate candidate, in a fundraising appeal, accused the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee of lying about her record. The political committee, headed by Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson, supports Estero Republican Ray Rodrigues.

“FRSCC caught in a LIE about my record,” an email blast subject line reads.

In question is a negative ad from the committee slamming Fitzhagen’s record in the House on issues including immigration.

“Fitzenhagen turned her back on President Trump, refusing to ban sanctuary cities,” the ad states.

The ad also hits on subjects like providing certain benefits to undocumented immigrants. But Fitzenhagen took issue immediately with the reference to a sanctuary cities bill.

A citation in the ad references a vote from the 2018 session against a version of the same bill filed by then-Rep. Larry Metz. Fitzenhagen missed the final floor vote on that bill, and had voted against a prior version. The bill died in committee in the Senate that year. But Fitzenhagen voted for the final bill passed in 2019 that was ultimately signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

PolitiFact recently fact-checked the ad and deemed that part of it “false.”

“I am extremely concerned that Rep. Rodrigues and his Tallahassee establishment friends would resort to lies and dirty tactics, but I am not surprised,” reads the email blast from Fitzenhagen.

“For a long time, they have put their own interests far ahead of the people they serve. I am working very hard to get the truth out to voters.

Fitzenhagen spoke about the issue in more measured tones to Florida Politics.

“The only thing I can think is they are looking for someone who is not the independent thinking candidate, and not the one controlled by special interests,” she said.

Fitzenhagen said she feels like she’s exploring new political territory now. Through four terms in the House, she said she never felt like a lawmaker “at odds” with leadership. That’s a sensation that started when she entered this race.

A spokesperson for the FRSCC declined to comment on Fitzenhagen’s newest email blast. The Rodrigues campaign referred any questions to the FRSCC since they were the source of the ad in question.

Fitzenhagen said she ultimately expects the primary to be dominated by discussions of water quality. With the endorsement of environmental voices like Rep. Brian Mast and The Everglades Trust, that would be ideal for her.

Those particular interests have ties to Gov. Ron DeSantis, but Fitzenhagen doesn’t expect to see that booming voice weigh in on a Republican primary.

“I can’t even imagine reaching out to the Governor with all he has on his plate,” she said. “I doubt he will get involved in races like this.”

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]

One comment

  • Ray Blacklidge

    July 15, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    Part of it was true, enough said….

    PolitiFact recently fact-checked the ad and deemed that part of it “false.”

Comments are closed.


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