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Haridopolos taps Benaquisto to be deputy Republican leader

Benaquisto Freshman state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Ft. Myers, continues here mercurial rise through the Senate as she was named by Senate President Mike Haridopolos Wedneday to be his new deputy majority leader. She'll work with Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, along with majority whips, Senators Anitere Flores, R-Miami, and David Simmons, R-Maitland, he said in a statement.

The move promotes Benaquisto, a Realtor and former Villages of Wellington council woman, into the Senate president's inner circle. These positions are usually reserved for veteran legislators but, Haridopolos, catapalted Benaquisto because, he said: “In her inaugural session, Senator Benacquisto’s energy was unmistakable.

"She treats her constituents with respect and is devoted to serving Floridians. Senator Benacquisto embraces her role as state senator wholeheartedly, and I know her colleagues in the senate majority will benefit from her characteristic focus and drive.”

Benaquisto was named by Haridopolos to head the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee, where she tried to find consensus on a priority bill for Haridopolos, the renewable energy legislation. She also Benacquisto championed bill on School Choice (SB 1331), Silver Alert (SB 664), the Andrew Widman Act (SB 844) and Qualified Target Industries (Senate Bill 1318).

She relocated to Fort Myers after being elected and anticipates that her cross-Florida district will be divided during redistricting next year. She is a mother of three children.