In possible special election for Benacquisto’s state Senate seat, the numbers don’t lie

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If State Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto should win the special election to replace disgraced former Congressman Trey Radel, conventional wisdom is that one of the region’s current Florida House members will immediately become the frontrunner to take her place in the Senate. 

So we decided to crunch the numbers, and see exactly who would enter a (hypothetical, for now) special Senate election for Benacquisto’s seat.

As for percentages of Republicans in Senate District 30, the breakdown shows many of them live in the districts of State Reps. Dane Eagle and Heather Fitzenhagen, by solid margins. 

Eagle, who represents House District 77, holds 32 percent of Republican voters in Senate District 30. Fitzenhagen’s House District 78 holds 28 percent.

Following are Rep. Ray Rodrigues in House District 76 gets 17 percent of the Senate district’s Republicans, while Rep. Matt Caldwell of House District 79 only turned out 15 percent for the GOP.

A look at the turnout paints a similar picture. 

In 2010, Fitzenhagen’s district took the lead in Republicans who showed up in SD 30, with 29 percent of Republicans casting ballots. Eagles’ Cape Coral Republicans came in second with 28 percent. 

Rounding out GOP turnout in 2012 were the districts of Rep. Rodrigues, Caldwell and Roberson with 17, 15 and 1 percent respectively. The turnout numbers remain strong for both Eagle and Fitzenhagen in other primary years.

For example, Eagle’s community offered 29 percent of GOP voters casting a ballot in the 2008 primary while 28 percent came from Fitzenhagen’s area. For Rodrigues, it was only 17 percent and 15 percent from Caldwell. The ratios are about the same for 2012.

The bottom line: numbers reveal opportunities for both Eagle and Fitzenhagen, should Benacquisto’s voters send her to Washington D.C.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.