April Freeman, the Democratic candidate for Florida’s 17th congressional district, died suddenly on Sunday night, according to a post from her husband on her Facebook page.
In a brief phone interview Monday with The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, he said that “it appears that she was having a heart attack."
Freeman, 54, was set to face off against Republican State Sen. Greg Steube in November's election for a seat vacated by Republican Rep. Tom Rooney, who retired effective January 2019.
The Central Florida district stretches from Lake Okeechobee to eastern Tampa Bay and, since its creation after the 2010 census, has been reliably Republican. President Trump earned 62 percent of the vote in the district on his way to a narrow win in the state overall.
Freeman previously challenged Rooney and lost in 2016.
According to her website, Freeman was a 2013 graduate of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale and “has worked in film and television production, specializing in development, finance and brand licensing.” She has two daughters and two grandchildren.
While out-of-state ballots with Freeman's name on them have already been sent, according to a local ABC affiliate, a committee made up of country chairs will now have five days to name a new candidate to face Steube. who released a statement saying: "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."