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Sabatini drops out of Congressional race, into commission race

June 14, 2024 at 11:26:23 PM

Andrea Charur


Once former president and felon Donald Trump endorsed incumbent Congressman Daniel Webster, far-right Republican Anthony Sabatini shifted his focus to the Lake County Commission. "I understand the political reality," he posted on X, Thursday night, June 13, 2024.

From campaign video

District 11 Congressional candidate Anthony Sabatini, 35, announced Thursday night on X, formerly Twitter, and other social media, that he was dropping out of the Aug. 20 Republican primary. His decision followed former president and felon Donald Trump’s endorsement of his opponent, U.S. Congressman Daniel Webster, 75, on his own platform, Truth Social. 

“I don’t always agree with Donald Trump’s endorsements, but I understand the political reality of what they are … District 11 will have to wait for another day,”  Sabatini’s statement read, in part. 

Sabatini further announced he is now running for District 1 Lake County Commissioner. 

“Trump has decided to endorse all of the remaining incumbents … He’s trying to unify the party and stop primaries,” Sabatini told VoxPopuli in a text message. “I understand that and it (sic) be focused on fixing the Lake County Commission.” 

An attorney in private practice and chair of the Lake County GOP, Sabatini began his political career in 2016 as a city commissioner in Eustis before he went on to represent House District 32 as a state representative in 2018. When his term was up in 2022, he made a run for Congress in District 7 but lost the primary to Cory Mills. This was his second run for congress. 

Sabatini told VoxPopuli in a May interview that he was running for Congress because Washington needs “more fierce Republicans,” and he wanted to fight against institutions that “are pushing forth administrative policies that target conservatives and hurt conservative people.” He echoed the same sentiment when he announced his run for Lake County Commission. 

Sabatini’s exit puts an end to his ongoing denials that Trump was supporting Webster over him. He has long pointed to the absence of any Truth Social announcement about Webster as well as the congressman being left off the list of Trump’s 2024 U.S. House endorsements on Ballotpedia as evidence there was no endorsement. Sabatini even sued The Floridian in April for defamation after the site claimed he lied when he said Trump hadn't endorsed Webster. 

 Webster endorsed Trump in May 2023, and Politico reported that an unnamed source said Trump would endorse Webster in return. But months went by as Trump endorsed nearly all of the other Florida Republicans in Congress before announcing his endorsement of Webster. Nonetheless, Webster has been campaigning since December with Donald Trump’s “Official Team Trump” seal, a licensed image for candidates and organizations Trump endorses or supports.

In response to Sabatini’s announcement, Webster released a statement Friday that said, in part, “This is the second time Anthony Sabatini filed against me for Florida’s 11th District just to later withdraw from the race. After seeing his defeat against Representative Cory Mills last cycle, I had hoped Anthony would reflect and run a campaign focused on the grave issues facing our Country (sic). Instead, he continued to lower himself with lies and mistruths about my proven conservative record until nothing remained of his character.” 

Webster's remaining primary challenger, the defense contractor and geophysicist John McCloy, told VoxPopuli, “Although Sabatini may attract social media attention with his vulgar comments about Webster, this does not appeal to the Republican voters in District 11. Voters want a candidate of good character and integrity. I can carry on Webster’s good work in Congress, but with renewed energy.”

The winner of the Republican primary will face Democratic District 11 nominee Barbie Harden Hall who has denounced Sabatini’s social media posts and fended off his trolls. She told VoxPopuli that Sabatini’s dropping out of the race has no effect on her campaign. 

“My focus is getting elected so that everyday Americans have a voice in Congress,” she said in a FaceBook message. “Sabatini’s exit simply means less chaos and distractions from the issues that truly matter to the community,” she said.

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