Heather Fitzenhagen throws punches at ‘Sugar Ray’ in first SD 27 ad
Heather Fitzenhagen.

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Fitzenhagen pushes back against attacks from within her own party.

Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen on Thursday released her first campaign ad in what’s has quickly become one of the most heated state Senate primaries on the 2020 ballot.

The ad, titled “Why They Lie,” sees the Fort Myers Republican push back against attacks from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee on her immigration record and her stance on the parental consent bill passed in the 2020 Legislative Session.

“Big Sugar has been poisoning Florida’s water and Florida’s politics for years. They want gun control, illegal immigration, and pet politicians like ‘Sugar Ray Rodrigues’ in charge. That’s why they lie,” Fitzenhagen says in the ad.

The camera briefly turns to Fitzenhagen’s daughter, who says her mother is “strongly pro-life” and “supports parental consent.”

The candidate continues, “But when a mother’s life is in danger, government should not come between our daughters and their doctors. I won’t let Big Sugar play political games with our children’s lives.”

Fitzenhagen’s explanation of her position differs from the argument she made when the bill was being debated on the House floor. She said she worried the proposal, which requires pregnant minors to get their parents’ permission before they can obtain an abortion, compel teens to seek out underground abortions, run away from home, or attempt suicide. She .voted against the consent bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis

(Correction: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated Fitzenhagen voted in favor of the parental consent bill, referencing an immigration bill instead.)

The ad comes a week after FRSCC rolled out a commercial calling Fitzenhagen “Planned Parenthood’s favorite politician,” saying she “turned her back on President [Donald] Trump,” and claiming she voted to give benefits to illegal immigrants.

Fitzenhagen and Rodrigues are running head-to-head in the Aug. 18 primary.

Fitzenhagen’s entry into the race was somewhat of a surprise. Rodrigues had been running solo for the seat for more than a year and raising money hand over fist. Fitzenhagen ruled out a Senate run in May 2019 and later launched a campaign for Florida’s 19th Congressional District.

SD 27 covers part of Lee County and is currently held by Republican Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who is term limited. The seat has a strong Republican lean, with Benacquisto earning 62% of the vote in 2012 and near unanimous support in 2018.

Rodrigues is the clear leader in fundraising. As of June 26, he had $149,332 on hand in his campaign in addition to two well-stocked political committees, Friends of Ray Rodrigues and Free Markets For Florida. Through the same date, Fitzenhagen had $24,198 in her campaign account and another $83,000 in her political committee, For A Better Florida.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


  • Robert M Mason

    July 17, 2020 at 12:29 am

    Heather Fitzenhagen has spent years fighting for Clean Water in Florida and saving the Everglades. Her opponent has not. With our current year we’re ready to take on Lake O discharges, keep the conversation going, and doing what was provided as a solution severs years ago, along with Captains for Clean Water and our residents too. This is no time to fall back to establishment and big Sugar money. We can’t afford anything but the Truth of Action Plans that many against citizens don’t care about fixing the situation, only about money in their pocketsl! Vote Fitzenhagen.

  • Florida Voice for the Unborn

    July 17, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    It is incomprehensible that reporter Drew Wilson would “report” the exact opposite of what actually occurred on the House floor just this past February 2020. As the correction now rightly notes, Fitzenhagen voted AGAINST the parental-consent-for-abortion legislation. She is an abortion extremist. Fitzenhagen was just one of two Republicans to vote AGAINST the parental-consent bill. Meantime, five brave Democratic lawmakers in the House bucked their own party and voted for parental consent! Pro-lifers: please sign Florida Voice for the Unborn’s petition to Rep. Fitzenhagen, requesting that she immediately take-down her false video advertisement. You can find the petition on our website (just google “Florida Voice for the Unborn”).

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