This week, Central Florida Republican Jan Edwards ended her challenge to U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla. After working in telecommunications, Edwards founded the Paving the Way Foundation where she currently serves as a president. The foundation looks to fight child trafficking in Florida and at the international level.
Florida Politics reported on Friday that Edwards is getting out the race due to a new opportunity to continue her efforts against child trafficking.
“Educating people about and preventing the horrors of human trafficking has always been a priority for me, and these new opportunities will help save thousands of lives,” Edwards said. “I plan to remain politically active, and I look forward to supporting the Republican nominee in the race to defeat Stephanie Murphy because we must return commonsense leadership to the residents of District 7.”
With Edwards out of the contest, attorney Vennia Francois, who ran for the Republican nomination last year, and college student Armani Salado make up the GOP field.
First elected to Congress in 2016 when she defeated longtime U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., Murphy has grown increasingly prominent during her second term in Congress, including being named to the leadership of the Blue Dog Coalition and claiming a seat on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.
The race here has the potential to be one of the most competitive congressional races in Florida. This is a swing district which includes all of Seminole County and parts of Orange County but Murphy impressively handled then-state Rep. Mike Miller in 2018, beating that Republican 58 percent to 42 percent. As of last year, 36 percent of the district were registered Democrats and 34 percent were registered Republicans. Democrat Hillary Clinton took 51 percent in the district in 2016 while Republican Donald Trump pulled 44 percent.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.