Fred Hawkins, charged with felony, wins Republican primary in HD 42
Fred Hawkins is the big man in the Osceola legislative delegation.

Fred Hawkins Jr.
Hawkins wins GOP primary easily over three foes.

Suspended Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins, arrested and charged with felony impersonation of a law enforcement officer last month, has won the Republican primary to run in House District 42.

Hawkins, who denies he did anything wrong in the November 2019 incident that led to the charge, solidly defeated three Republican challengers Tuesday across both Osceola and Polk counties.

He won with 47%, compared with 30% for Dianna Liebnitzky, 18% for Gary Scott, and 6% for Benny Valentin.

He now faces Democrat Barbara Cady in the November General Election. They both seek to succeed Republican Rep. Mike La Rosa, who is leaving due to term limits. Republicans have held the district for many years, but Democrats hold a 6-point advantage in voter registration.

“Thank you to the voters of House District 42 for their unwavering support of my candidacy, and to our campaign team in Osceola and Polk County for their tireless efforts,” Hawkins said in a written statement. “Together, we will continue to run an issues-based campaign working toward protecting Florida’s water and natural resources, public safety and education. I appreciate your continued support as we head toward the November general election.”

Hawkins had drawn strong backing from the region’s business community, including an endorsement from Business Force and numerous major campaign donations. He dominated in campaign money, raising and spending more than $220,000, including spending $93,000 on mailers in the first 13 days of August. None of the others spent as much as $10,000, at least through the Aug. 13 campaign finance reports.

Yet Hawkins went into the primary facing a felony charge that he had impersonated a law enforcement officer while attending a raucous homeowners association election in November and forcing his way into the election area. He insisted he was trying to get to the back room to try to settle down an angry crowd.

That was not the only negative Hawkins managed to overcome Tuesday. He also had been politically tied to two widely unpopular Osceola County initiatives: the disposal of Puerto Rican coal ash in the county landfill and a county transportation tax proposal that crashed hard in an initiative election last year.

Those issues appeared to hurt him in Osceola County, but not in Polk County. His vote edge over Liebnitzky was much tighter in Osceola, 39% to 35%, than in Polk, where he won by a landslide, 63% to 17% for Liebnitzky.

Liebnitzky, a health care administrator and adjunct professor from St. Cloud, was among the leaders in opposition of the transportation tax, as was La Rosa, and, for that matter, Cady.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


  • Michelle

    August 20, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    Unforunately, it looks like the folks in Polk County have been uninformed. Very dusappointing.

  • Raymond

    August 23, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    The voters in Osceola County Have learned the hard way that Fred Hawkins is a self serving, pocket filling RINO. Many of us supported him in his prior races involving the Osceola County Commission races, but became aware of his allegiance to Central Florida Developers and a failure to make them pay for infrastructure necessitated by their far reaching developments, while constantly giving them tax credits. A the same time he and his fellow board members constantly have sought tax increases. Then there was the Coal Ash from Puerto Rico in which Hawkins was warned against voting for by the Florida State Ethics Commission, due to his employment as a paid consultant to Waste Management for which he was paid a salary of over $120,000 year. Although Hawkins did not cast a vote for the Coal Ash deal, the deal was his and he got in front of every TV camera he could find in order to try and sale the deal to the public. It did not go over well! He also pushed through a new sanitation deal during this time for which he also did not vote, because he again was employed by a waste company. Yet the people of Osceola were given a $300.00 per year increase in our trash bill, with less pick up days and the original company buying out the bid winner, then changing their name. Imagine that! Tricky dick Hawkins strikes again. Oh and did I mention that his Father previously owned the landfill and sold it with a royalty proviso that he would receive royalties for every truck dumped at the landfill. So Hawkins helped fill his parents pockets with the Coal Ash deal! Most recently Hawkins had himself installed on an educational board in which he serves as the chair for a salary of $100,000 per year. He claims to put in forty or more hours per week, while at the same time juggling all of his other responsibilities. Oh, and don’t forget Freddie Hawkins being arrested for impersonating a law enforcement officer while flashing his sheriff deputy badge and telling the women on video that he was with the sheriffs department; and that she was about to be arrested. Freddie was not a member of the community in question, had no authority there what-so-ever and was wearing his Campaign polo shirt if you observe the video. I have come to understand that he says one thing and does another. Like many of today’s politicians he is all about himself! After all, his developer buddies donated over $220,000 which he spent on the primary in which he basically split the vote for in Osceola County. This for a $40,000 dollar job!

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