Rep. Anthony Sabatini said he plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy for her seat in Congress.
The Howey-in-the-Hills Republican announced in March he would forgo a third term in the Florida Legislature and run for U.S. House. But he raised eyebrows and incumbent ire when he filed in U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster’s district.
That’s where he lives, but he signaled early that he held hope the Legislature would redraw boundaries, and he would run elsewhere. It’s clear now he doesn’t plan to wait. Sabatini tweeted he has now formally filed in Florida’s 7th Congressional District. The Federal Election Commission website reflected that change on Tuesday.
Sabatini on social media shared a map he has posted several times in the last month with a potential redraw of Florida’s districts that places him is Murphy’s district and potentially in the same jurisdiction.
“Based on projected maps in Florida … this morning I OFFICIALLY filed for the new District 7 congressional seat,” Sabatini posted. “This pits my campaign against America-Last, corrupt Democrat Rep. Stephanie Murphy. Support my America First campaign.”
He tweeted a donor link to his account.
The map Sabatini keeps tweeting shows a district that includes all of Citrus, west Hernando County and southern Sumter and Lake counties and then stretches further east into Winter Garden in Orange County.
It does not include the Winter Park area where Murphy lives. Rather, the map places Winter Park in a district with Orlando that stretches south to Lake Buena Vista.
Of course, Florida law allows candidates for Congress to run in districts whether they live there or not.
But some political prognosticators do suggest Murphy could be vulnerable in 2022.
Cook Political Report recently released partisan indexes based on boundaries ahead of redistricting. Analysts give CD 7 a D+3 rating, saying it slightly favors Democrats, but by a lower margin than any Florida Democrat in the House except Rep. Charlie Crist, who is running for Governor.
Sabato’s Crystal Ball, out of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, also rates Murphy’s district among Florida’s most competitive, but lists the seat as “Likely Democratic.”
Murphy, who first won her seat by defeating longtime Republican incumbent Rep. John Mina in 2016, had more than $1.4 million in cash on hand as of the end of March. Sabatini, at the same point, had about $149,000 in the bank.