Democrat House candidate from Florida dies suddenly at 54

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A woman running to represent Florida’s 17th Congressional District on behalf of the Democrat Party died suddenly Sunday night at the age of 54.

Her husband announced the untimely death of April Freeman, who’d just won her party’s nomination in last month’s primary election.

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

While an official cause of death has not been released, Freeman said that his wife appeared to suffer a heart attack. “It appears that she was having a heart attack,” he told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “That’s all I know right now. I’ll post more … I have no further comment.”

Statements of support

Local media outlet WWSB reported that April Freeman was a film and television producer living near the Ft. Myers area, a mother of two and grandmother of two with decades of experience producing films, TV series and reality programs, as well as having authored a series of children’s books, a self-help book, and a women’s political guide.

Freeman was running to fill the soon to be vacant seat held by outgoing Republican Rep. Tom Rooney, who Freeman had unsuccessfully attempted to unseat in 2016.

Her platform focused heavily on protecting and defending children, seniors, veterans, the broader community and the environment.

“April was a beautiful person. She worked tirelessly for veterans, seniors, and the entire community. We are heartbroken and send our condolences to her family and friends,” said the Sarasota County Democratic Party in a statement.

Freeman’s opponent, Republican State Senator Greg Steube, offered his condolences in a statement. “‪My thoughts and prayers are with April Freeman’s family in the wake of her tragic passing. 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 event will be cancelled,” he said.

What happens now

As per Florida law, a committee will now be formed by the county chairs of the affected counties to decide within five days on a candidate to replace Freeman in the upcoming election.

However, there may be issues with changing the name of the Democrat nominee on ballots this close to the election, and mail-in ballots bearing Freeman’s name have already been sent out to out-of-state voters.

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Freeman was a long shot in the race to represent the solidly Republican 17th district, which voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by 27 points in 2016. In addition, she was underfunded compared to her GOP opponent — by early August, she had only raised about $28,000 against Steube’s $527,000.

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