Fiona McFarland facing Derek Reich in HD 73

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The incumbent flipped a seat red in 2018.

State Rep. Fiona McFarland, and her Democratic challenger Derek Reich, have each qualified in one of Florida’s most closely divided House districts.

On Monday, the House District 73 incumbent qualified to run for a second term. The Sarasota Republican welcomed the challenge.

“Giving the voters a choice every two years of who represents them in Tallahassee keeps elected officials responsible to our districts and is critical to a healthy democracy,” McFarland said. “I’ve spent my first term working hard for the people of Sarasota and am looking forward to re-earning my position at the ballot box in November.”

She will face Reich, a Sarasota teacher and first-time candidate. The Democrat also qualified on Monday — and officially launched his campaign, including a new website. The Venice Democrat touted being born and raised in Sarasota County.

Reich came for the Republican-controlled state House in his announcement, without mentioning McFarland by name.

“It is quite evident to me that Tallahassee politicians have ignored the problems of the Suncoast and average Floridians,” he said.

“As Sarasota County Schools struggles to staff our schools with teachers and bus drivers, Sarasota County’s own State Representatives voted to cut Sarasota County Schools funding by $12 million, Piney Point poisoned our bay and beaches after decades of neglect in Tallahassee. Tallahassee then took aim at our vulnerable seniors living in nursing homes and proceeded to cut their CNA (certified nursing assistant) care time by 20%. Tallahassee voted to ban abortions for victims of rape and human trafficking. Lastly, Tallahassee has failed to provide affordable housing to our law enforcement officers, nurses, teachers, firefighters, waitresses, etc. Enough is enough.”

He promised to fight for average Floridians and “work to solve the real issues affecting everyday residents of the Suncoast.”

McFarland won in 2020 over Democrat Drake Buckman by more than nine percentage points, flipping a seat previously held by Democrat Margaret Good.

The seat is one of the most closely divided in Florida under a new map approved by the Legislature, at least based on voting in the 2020 presidential election.

Under the new lines, Republican Donald Trump won the district, but only with 49.7% of the vote compared to 49.34% who favored Democrat Joe Biden.

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].


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