Congressional Candidate Freeman Dies

Todays News


Congressional candidate April Freeman unexpectedly died on Sunday evening, leaving the Southwest Florida political world in shock. The Democrat was running in U.S. House District 17.

Republican Greg Steube cancelled all campaign events in the wake of Freeman’s death. Party leaders say they will discuss the process of naming a replacement nominee in due time, but for the moment were dealing with the unexpected news.

Freeman’s husband, David, announced Freeman's passing on her personal Facebook page Monday. "It’s with great sadness that I feel I must inform all of you that my beloved wife April passed away suddenly last night,” he wrote. “To all of her family and friends here on Facebook, my heart aches with you.”

Freeman in August won the Democratic primary over Bill Pollard and was set to face Steube in November. Both candidates stepped away from politics for a moment to mourn her death.

"My thoughts and prayers are with April Freeman’s family in the wake of her tragic passing," Steube said in a statement. "I respect her service to our community and admire her commitment to the causes she cared about. Out of respect to her memory, next week’s campaign events will be cancelled."

“Although we were contenders for the same nomination, I am saddened,” Pollard said. “We shared mostly the same political ideals and we a few times talked on the sidelines about them. My condolences go out to her loved ones, especially her husband, David.”

It was Freeman's second time as the nominee. Two years ago, she ran unsuccessfully against Tom Rooney, who announced his retirement this year. She’d recently told SRQ she felt more confident running for the open seat.

JoAnne DeVries, chairman of the Sarasota Democratic Party, says Freeman two years ago largely headquartered her campaign from the local office—a plurality of voters in the nine-county district live in Sarasota County.

“She was such a sweetie,” DeVries recalls. “She loved campaigning and loved being a candidate.”

David Shapiro, the Democratic nominee in District 16, says he was saddened by the news. He frequently campaigned at Sarasota events alongside Freeman. "April was such a passionate advocate, she will be missed," he says.

State leaders also recalled her energy on the trail. "April put her heart and soul into her community—and was dedicated to making a better future for all Floridians,” says Florida Democratic Party chair Terrie Rizzo. "Just last night she was in the office, making calls and working to get out the vote. Her work ethic and passion was an inspiration to all of us. It is a tremendous loss to the Democratic Party and to all who knew her."

Sarasota Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner says state law now leaves it to the state party to consult with county chairs and executive committees to name a replacement nominee. DeVries says nominees will hopefully come forward and a decision will be made in a timely fashion. Pollard declines to say if he will pursue the nomination.

“I am letting the powers that be take the next step,” he says. “If they should consider me, we will move from there."

Ballots have been printed, but, once a replacement gets named, Turner says election officials will post a note in voting booths and with mail-in ballots explaining votes for Freeman will count for the new nominee.



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