As Florida legislators position themselves to offer new congressional maps as a result of the current redistricting process, the Republican primary race in the proposed 7th congressional district continues to fluctuate.
Florida’s 7th District, currently represented by Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D), is expected to move east and encompass Seminole County and part of Volusia County.
Today, there are a total 7 of Republican congressional candidates vying to become their’ political party’s nomination in this soon-t0-be Republican-leaning seat.
The Republican candidates—Erika Benfield, former Police Officer Jeremy Liggett, Rep. Anthony Sabatini, Combat Veteran Cory Mills, former Navy Seal Cory Duke, Lee Ogilvie, and Kristopher Stark.
Back in October, Joseph Cavagna dropped out of the race and now has recently endorsed Rep. Sabatini’s candidacy.
Rep. Sabatini, Brady Duke, and Cory Mills are considered the top tier of the group has raised over $700,000 each, with Duke having raised the most with $900,000.
Benfield has only raised about $100,000, but is growing her grassroots game, recently announced several campaign coalitions.
Benfield isn’t the only candidate getting ahead of the redistricting process and mounting a ground game. Mills and Sabatini are said to also be actively pursuing grassroots supports in the proposed district.
But while these candidates continue to push their candidacies, most of them running on a “MAGA” or “America First” campaign trying to “out-Trump” one another, and it appears as if Sabatini and Mills may soon suck the oxygen out of this primary race.
Mills is hitting Sabatini hard over the fiery legislator's missed votes in the Florida Legislature and for his recent vote against the DeSantis-supported budget in the House of Representatives.
Several of Sabatini’s fellow Republican legislators took to Twitter to mock him over his missed votes and for being the only Republican to side with Progressive Democrats in opposition to the Republican-sponsored budget.
Rep. Sabatini has been calling most, if not all of his Republican colleagues “RINO” Republicans, but now those alleged “RINOs” are trying to turn the table on him.
“RINO(Representative in Name Only) Absentini is trying to pull the wool over the peoples eyes. Look up his record. He has the most absences in the history of the Florida House except those with a terminal disease.#steelingapaycheck #givebackthemoney,” tweeted Rep. Chuck Clemons in response to a tweet by Rep. Chris Latvala.
RINO(Representative in Name Only) Absentini is trying to pull the wool over the peoples eyes. Look up his record. He has the most absences in the history of the Florida House except those with a terminal disease.#steelingapaycheck #givebackthemoney https://t.co/SGhWY57R2P
— Chuck Clemons (@ChuckClemons21) February 19, 2022
"After skipping the votes on the democratic amendments to strip it and the 10 hours of q & a and debate over 2 days, you are quite the Warrior for showing up for the last 30 minutes after your nap to vote,” tweeted Rep. Latvala in response to Rep. Sabatini’s tweet about voting in favor of the 15-month abortion bill last week.
Mills is trying to capitalize on Sabatini’s missed votes and piling on Reps. Clemons, Rep. Latvala, and Michelle Salzman’s assertion that Sabatini was an absentee representative.
“ONLY REPUBLICAN (Fmr Democrat) WHO VOTES WITH PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS. @AnthonySabatini even votes with AOC backed @AnnaForFlorida, Then misses a dozen votes taxpayers pay him to attend,” stated Mills, adding, “ We don’t need more proxy or absentee voting by elected officials who fail to represent the people. We need real fighters who show up to work every time and the entire time.”
Mills put out another tweet that all but called Sabatini a “RINO.”
“The same legislator calling out “RINOs” just voted against Republican colleagues and voted with AOC backed progressives in FL House regarding FL budget. Is that not a RINO?” tweeted Mills.
The bill that Republican legislators and Mills are referring to is the aforementioned HB 5001, House budget measure, where Sabatini joined Rep. Anna Eskamani and 12 other Progressive Democratic legislators to oppose it. Sabatini was the lone Republican vote.
Sabatini’s response to the budget was as follows”
“Just voted HELL NO on the Florida House budget. Why? Because it gives RECORD FUNDING to the Marxist universities & colleges in Florida. No more arming leftists. DEFUND the Woke indoctrination centers & use the money to fund vocational education & middle class tax cuts 🇺🇸”
Just voted HELL NO on the Florida House budget
Why? Because it gives RECORD FUNDING to the Marxist universities & colleges in Florida
No more arming leftists
DEFUND the Woke indoctrination centers & use the money to fund vocational education & middle class tax cuts 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/jqMUq9iGCM
— Rep. Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) February 16, 2022
Sabatini is right, the budget does fund Florida colleges and universities, including his alma mater, the University of Florida.
But the budget also includes funding for Florida farmers, U.S. military personnel and their families, and military readiness, to name a few taxpayer dollar recipients.
According to the budget Sabatini voted against, $500,000 were allocated for “rehabilitative services to soldiers wounded during military service,” and a pay raise of 5.38% to Florida National Guardsmen to counter the rise of inflation, and cybersecurity for the state of Florida.
Both men have touted significant congressional endorsements for their respective congressional races. Sabatini has the support of Sen. Rand Paul, Reps. Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Madison Cawthorne.
Mills has been endorsed by the American Conservative Union (ACU) and U.S. Reps. Jim Jordan, Brian Mast, Greg Steube, Ronny Jackson, Brian Babin, MarkWayne Mullin, John Rutherford, Neal Dunn, Pete Sessions, Gus Bilirakis, Troy Nehls, Jim Banks, and Beth Van Duyne, as well as from State Senator Tom Wright (R).
Several Florida House Republicans have told The Floridian that they will also be endorsing Mills in the coming weeks over their colleague Sabatini.
The Floridian reach out to both Sabatini and Mills for comment, but neither was available for comment.