Florida Democrat Running for Congress Dies Unexpectedly

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MIAMI — April Freeman, the Democratic candidate running in Florida’s 17th Congressional District, died on Sunday, according to her husband, David Freeman, who announced her death on his wife’s Facebook page on Monday.

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

Mr. Freeman later told The Sarasota Herald-Tribune that Ms. Freeman died apparently of a heart attack. She was 54.

Ms. Freeman was running in the solidly Republican 17th District in southwestern Florida, where the G.O.P. incumbent, Representative Tom Rooney, is retiring. Her Republican opponent, State Senator Greg Steube, offered condolences to Ms. Freeman’s family on Twitter.

“I respect her service to our community and admire her commitment to the causes she cared about,” Mr. Steube wrote. “Out of respect to her memory, next week’s campaign events will be canceled.”

Ms. Freeman, a film and television producer, lost elections to Mr. Rooney in 2016, and to former Representative Curt Clawson in the 19th District in 2014. Her campaign biography mentioned her two daughters and two grandchildren, as well as her family roots in Michigan.

Under state law, Ms. Freeman’s name will remain on the November ballot, but before the election the Florida Democratic Party will nominate another candidate to run for the seat, according to Sarah Revell, a spokeswoman for the state’s Division of Elections.

“A notice will be provided to voters indicating that a vote for the former party nominee will be counted for the person designated by the political party to replace the former party nominee,” Ms. Revell said in a statement.

The process to select a new nominee must begin within five days. The state Democratic Party will have to convene a meeting of county-level party executives in the 17th District, which is one of the state’s largest.

Terrie Rizzo, the Florida Democratic Party chairwoman, said on Monday that Ms. Freeman “put her heart and soul into her community — and was dedicated to making a better future for all Floridians.”

“Just last night she was in the office, making calls and working to get out the vote,” Ms. Rizzo said in a statement. “Her work ethic and passion was an inspiration to all of us. It is a tremendous loss to the Democratic Party and to all who knew her.

“Our hearts break for her family and loved ones, who are grieving her loss.”

Doris Burke contributed research.

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