McFarland to Face Reich in District 73

Todays News

State Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, will see a challenge this year from Sarasota High teacher Derek Reich, a Democrat.

The freshman lawmaker welcomed the chance to defend her record over her first term in the Florida House.

“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.”

Reich, a Sarasota County native, came to the race with a starkly different assessment of the work of McFarland and of the Legislature as a whole. He in particularly questioned a House plan, which ultimately did not pass, that would have withheld $12 million from Sarasota County Schools as retribution for enforcing a mask mandate for part of the school year. 

“I just couldn’t believe a Representative regardless of party would not do the bare minimum, which is to go fight for your community,” he said.

He also criticized McFarland for failing to address an affordable housing crisis, counter to campaign promises made when she first ran in 2020.

McFarland, for her part, counts among accomplishment successfully fighting for a number of projects over two years. She also spent much of this year working to make sure there was full funding for community-based care providers in the state, including the Safe Children Coalition serving this judicial circuit.

The once-a-decade redistricting process means the district, now House District 73, bears a significantly different shape than it did two years ago. The district now covers the entirety of the city and spans south to Venice west of Interstate-75. 

The seat has one of the greatest partisan divides in Florida. Republican Donald Trump won the district under the lines but with just 49.7% of the vote to Democrat Joe Biden’s 49.34%. Similarly, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won the district in 2018 with 49.93% of the vote while Democrat Andrew Gillum took 49% of the vote.

McFarland has raised about $129,824 for the race in her official campaign account, while Reich hasn’t reported any fundraising to date.

Neither candidate faces a primary opponent as of now. The deadline for qualification is at noon on Friday.

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