At the end of every week, we praise a political playmaker, “swipe left” on the week’s biggest political loser, and explain what it all means for Florida’s political arena.
CHAMP: State Representative Anthony Sabatini
Never the one to shy away from a fight, the outspoken conservative representative continues to make waves in the media, filing several lawsuits against counties that are requiring their residents to wear masks inside places of business.
Last Monday, Sabatini announced he was suing Orange County over its newly-enacted mandate that would require people to wear face-covering in public. The Howey-in-the-Hills Republican would follow this announcement up on Wednesday by taking the fight to Leon County, filing another lawsuit for penalizing people who fail to adhere to the face-covering order.
On Monday, the Republican legislator will continue his fight to make facemasks a recommendation when he appears in Hillsborough County to file another suit on behalf of a small business owner.
As it stands, several counties across the state have issued similar emergency orders that make wearing a mask mandatory inside establishments like restaurants, grocery stores, buses, churches, and nonprofits. Many of these mandates carry hefty penalties if violated, including fines and potential jail time.
Sabatini maintains that such orders are broad and overreaching, with many violating the equal protection clause. He hopes that pushback will lead to counties altering the language — much like what was done in Seminole County.
CHUMP: State Representative Heather Fitzenhagen
Being a Republican in the doghouse of Florida’s most powerful gun-rights activist is never a good look.
Fitzenhagen got raked over the coals by National Rifle Association icon Marion Hammer in an email blast last Thursday that landed in GOP mailboxes across the state, with the former NRA President accusing Fitzenhagen of stabbing Republicans in the back by pledging support for anti-gun Democrat Gary Farmer.
“At a time when Republicans can be happy that they will have a true Republican [a reference to Wilton Simpson] taking office as Senate President, why would Heather Fitzenhagen do the unthinkable?” Hammer wrote in the email blast. “Is it simply that she is Florida’s own version of Nancy Pelosi who has been waiting to expose herself as a Democrat when she could benefit personally from the exposure?”
Hammer’s accusation is based on several pieces of evidence against Fitzenhagen, the most recent of which is Fitzenhagen’s late entry into the District 27 Senate race when Ray Rodriguez appeared to have a clear path to the GOP nomination. Rodriguez is backed by Simpson, but Fitzenhagen suddenly changed plans after dropping out of a race for Congress when it became clear that her moderate record meant she stood little chance of winning over skeptical Republican voters.
Fitzenhagen is no stranger to drawing ire from those on the political right. Her legislative record includes several hiccups, including her liberal stance on abortion and immigration.