CD 7 Republican candidate Erika Benfield announces small business coalition

Erika Benfield
'Erika’s honest and follows through.'

Republican congressional candidate Erika Benfield has announced a campaign support group she’s calling the “Small Business Owners for Erika Coalition” to support her bid in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

The group, which includes Brooke Boltz of the Boltz Legal law firm in Oviedo, Charles and Hannah Smith of the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory in Daytona Beach, and Jake Vrtar of O’Leary’s Irish Pub in DeBary, is made up of small business owners Benfield said are “American patriots who embody the principles of leadership and success that I will take with me to Capitol Hill.”

“I am honored to have so many of these business leaders supporting me in my campaign to be the next Congresswoman of FL-07,” Benfield said in a news release issued by her campaign Wednesday. “Small businesses are the backbone of our communities, but I have seen them constantly struggle due to government mismanagement and over-regulations. When I’m elected to Congress, I will be a steadfast advocate for small businesses.”

Benfield, who owns an interior design business, is in a crowded Republican field seeking a chance to claim CD 7, which currently covers Seminole County and parts of Orange County. Some of the proposed redistricting maps — but not all — would move the district’s northern boundary to include her hometown of DeBary in Volusia County.

Other Republican candidates include Sanford businessman Scott SturgillCory Mills, state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, Brady Duke, Jeremy Liggett, Joe Cavagna and Tuan Le.

The seat is opening after the 2022 election because three-term incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park announced in December she would not seek a fourth term. No Democrats have yet filed to run.

Boltz endorsed Benfield’s campaign in the news release, saying, “Erika has a history of owning a business in the community for over a decade with dedicated clients, including myself. This administration needs to hear from a leader in the small business community to pass pro-small business policies.”

In the news release, the Smiths declared, “We need someone with a pro-business mentality in Washington, D.C. to stop inflation and rebuild the workforce. I know Erika will be that voice for us.”

Vrtar said, “Erika’s honest and follows through. She always puts small businesses and people first.”

Other members of her new coalition include Ellen Hartman of Ellen’s Wine Room in Sanford; Angie Ugarte of the DeBary Diner in DeBary; Brian Stanley of Jet-Set Printing & Signs in Casselberry; Don Bauerle Sr. and Don Bauerle Jr. of Highbanks Marina in DeBary; Sady Garcia of Deltona Gun Exchange in Deltona; Christina and Lonnie Proctor of Lonnie’s Fusion Cuisine in Lake Mary; Danny Allen of Discount Propane in DeBary; and the Clayton brothers of Clayton & Sons Salvage Yard in DeBary.

Last month her campaign announced the creation of her “Veterans for Erika Coalition,” whom Benfield also described as “American patriots who embody the principles of leadership and service that I will bring to Congress.”

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].


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