The sudden death of April Freeman has been tough for those working in Florida politics. The Democratic nominee for the U.S. House District 17 died Sunday night, which leads to questions at this sensitive time as to what is the proper procedure moving forward, with an election rapidly approaching.
A close friend reported she previously had heart problems. “One thing I can say about April is she’s always been, according to my staff, commented how pleasant she was and my prayers go out to her family,” Tommy Doyle said, the Lee County Supervisor of Elections.
April’s opponent, Greg Steube, shared his condolences on Twitter.
My thoughts & 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 events will be cancelled.
— Greg Steube (@gregsteube) September 24, 2018
And Bill Pollard, who April ran against in the primary, shared how kind and sweet he was.
With elections five weeks away, Freeman's death will not impede the vote. “The state is not going to rest," Tommy Doyle said. "Things are going to have to happen pretty quickly.”
The process for filling vacancies is stated in Florida Statute 100.111 .
Since District 17 covers nine counties, an executive committee chair from each county will meet to determine a nominee for the position. “And that has to happen within five days," Doyle said. "Within seven days, they have to designate a nominee."
The nominee has to be submitted to the filling officer for the state. He or she will have to qualify as a normal candidate and pay the qualifying fees associated with that distinction. The ballots are already printed, so a vote for April Freeman is a vote for the new nominee. However, voters will be notified.
“We have 15 precincts in that portion, about 60,000 registered voters in that congressional district and we will post signs at each precinct,” Doyle said.
The Lee County Election Office will also send out a notice to the 16,000 voters with mail-in ballots about this.
Although we don't know who the nominee will be, we do know it won't be Bill Pollard, who ran against her in the primary.
“A person who had qualified for the primary election, or attempted to qualify," Doyle said, "is prohibited from being a nominee for that position."