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On the Ballot: Florida House District 106

On the Ballot: Florida House District 106

Incumbent state representative Bob Rommel, a Republican, is running for a third two-year term. He is being challenged by Democrat Sara McFadden, who also challenged him two years ago.

A recent article by Naples Daily News columnist Phil Fernandez provides valuable information about the candidates and the state of the race:

In this post, I will review what I learned from researching the candidates, look at the money that is financing the campaigns and a provide link to an online candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Collier County.

Please see How I Research Candidates and Six Things to Consider When Evaluating Candidates for my approach to writing these posts. I also asked the candidates to complete a questionnaire and included excerpts edited for brevity and clarity as well as links to the complete documents below.

Sara McFadden (Democrat)

Sara McFadden grew up in New Jersey and received a Bachelor’s degree with honors from Georgian Court University. She had a career in the insurance business, including with the New Jersey Disability Insurance Service and eventually as Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrative Manager for AIG / American International Group in Philadelphia.

Later, as a stay-at-home mom raising two daughters in Connecticut, she assumed volunteer and leadership roles in her neighborhood, church, senior center, and scouting. Those community activities continued when she went back to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology and established an interior design firm.

She and her husband have lived in Collier County since 2011.

Her website gives her views on COVID-19, healthcare & public safety, the environment, education, and citizen rights & criminal/juvenile justice.

Press Coverage

Questionnaire Responses

Why are you running for this position?

I don’t feel represented. Twenty-two years of one-party rule has resulted in business/financial interests and short-term profits being prioritized over people and long-term stability.

What are three things you want to accomplish if you are elected?

1. Deal with the projected $3.4 billion state budget deficit. We must end the FREE ride for our largest corporations by eliminating tax loopholes, cuts, credits, and exemptions in the FL Corporate Tax Law. Five percent is the statutory rate, but 99% of corporations pay nothing. (This would not affect LLC’s and small businesses.)

2. Find solutions to our failing sewage systems, aging septic tanks, animal waste from ranching, mining byproducts, and chemicals and fertilizers from agriculture. We must stop pollution at its source, and hold polluters accountable.

3. Increase mental health funding and expand Medicaid. Repeal “Stand Your Ground.” Honor the second amendment, but require background checks for all gun sales.

A current public policy position she disagrees with and would like to change if elected is:

Stop arming teachers and require any school that accepts public funds to have the same oversight, standards, requirements, supervision, and accountability as a traditional public school.

The most important thing voters should know about her before making their decision in this race is that:

I’m an experienced administrator who’s also owned and operated a small business. I have a background in regional, state, and local politics. I promise focused leadership and practical solutions that save time, taxes, and resources to create a Florida that works – for all of us.

Endorsements

McFadden has been endorsed by Florida AFL-CIO, Environmental Caucus of Florida, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Naples Better Government, Democrat Veterans Caucus of Florida, the Progressive Caucus, Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, Florida LGBTQ Democratic Caucus, and more. Her website also has a Kudos page that lists comments from supporters.

In Her Own Words

Bob Rommel (Republican)

Bob Rommel was born and raised in Keyport, New Jersey, and attended Brookdale Community College in nearby Lincroft. In 2002, he sold a mortgage company that he and a partner had founded and grown to 120 employees. His business in Southwest Florida led him and his wife to spend time here until eventually, they made Naples their full-time home.

Rommel currently co-owns three restaurants – two in southwest Florida, one in New Jersey. He describes himself as “a successful businessman concerned about our future and determined to make a difference.”

He is a past President of the Caxambas Republican Club and a member of the Collier County Republican Party.

His website gives his view on the economy, lower taxes, quality education, and Southwest Florida water quality.

Press Coverage

As a State Legislator

Rommel’s votes as a member of the Florida Legislature are summarized by VoteSmart. He voted for compensating college athletes, increasing the signature threshold for initiative petitions, E-Verify, requiring parental consent for minors prior to abortion, requiring felons to pay outstanding court fees prior to voting rights restoration, school voucher programs that divert funding from traditional public schools, and reducing corporate income tax. For more, see VoteSmart.

A list and summary of bills sponsored by Rommel in the Florida legislature is at BillTrack50.com.

He was rated very highly by Florida Right to Life, Americans for Prosperity – Florida, Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business – Florida, American Conservative Union, Foundation for Florida’s Future, the NRA, Florida Health Care Association, and Florida Family Action. He received very low ratings from the Florida Education Association (teachers union), Vote Water, and LEAP Forward. For more, see VoteSmart.

Questionnaire Responses

Rommel did not return my candidate questionnaire.

Endorsements

Rommel has been endorsed by Florida Right to Life, Florida Realtors PAC, and Florida Chamber of Commerce. In the 2020 Republican primary, he was endorsed by Associated Industries of Florida.

A search of his Twitter feed also revealed endorsements by The Hispanic Vote of Southwest Florida, Florida Professional Firefighters, and the Florida Police Benevolent Association.

In His Own Words

In addition, Rommel has a Podcasts page on his website; the most recent dates to August 2019. They include Rommel in conversation with David Lawrence Center CEO Scott Burgess, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, Solutions for Prosperity Florida State Director Skylar Zander, and more.

The Money

According to the most recent campaign finance filings available today on the Florida Division of Elections website:

Of note:

McFadden received 295 individual contributions of which 3 were for $1,000 each and the others averaged about $250. She loaned her campaign $50,000.

Rommel received 301 individual contributions of which more than one-third were for $1,000 each; more than one-quarter were from political associations, trade associations, or government relations firms; and more than 20 percent were from Tallahassee connections. Rommel also controls the Florida Conservative Committee (PAC), which spent about $138,000 to-date and has about $275,000 cash on hand as of 10/2/20.

Online Candidate Forum

McFadden and Rommel participated in a Candidate Forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Collier County on September 29, 2020. Watch it HERE.


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