|Member of the Florida Senate
from the 27th district
November 2, 2010
|Preceded by||Dave Aronberg|
|Florida Senate Majority Leader|
November 2012 – November 2014
|Preceded by||Andy Gardiner|
|Succeeded by||Bill Galvano|
December 23, 1967 |
Rockville Centre, New York
|Residence||Wellington, Florida (c.1982-2010)
Fort Myers, Florida (2010-present)
Lizbeth Benacquisto is a Republican politician who has served as a member of the Florida State Senate since 2010. She currently represents the 27th district, which includes part of Lee County. She was a candidate in the 2014 special election for Florida's 19th Congressional District.
Benacquisto was born in Rockville Centre, New York in 1967 and moved to Florida in 1978, where she attended Palm Beach Atlantic University and worked as a realtor and marketing consultant. She served as a Wellington Village Councilwoman from 2002 to 2010.
In 2010, incumbent Democratic State Senator Dave Aronberg opted against seeking another term in the State Senate, instead choosing to run for Attorney General of Florida. Benacquisto ran to succeed him, and narrowly defeated State Representative Sharon J. Merchant and Mike Lameyer in the Republican primary. In the general election, Benacquisto faced off against Kevin J. Rader, a State Representative and the Democratic nominee. The district spanned from West Palm Beach on the Gold Coast to Cape Coral on the Sun Coast. Rader accused Benacquisto of committing 105 election law violations in a television advertisement, a claim which Politifact rated as a true statement. Benacquisto was further attacked for opposing a woman's right to choose, in cases of "rape, incest, even to save a woman's life," which Benacquisto responded to by noting that she had been raped years earlier and that Rader "crossed the line" with his advertisement. The Rader campaign, however, stood by the advertisement.  In the end, following a toughly-fought campaign, Benacquisto defeated her opponent by a surprisingly wide margin, winning 54% of the vote to pick up the seat for the Republican Party.
When Florida Senate districts were reconfigured in 2012, Benacquisto ran for re-election in the 30th District. It included most of the old 27th, but not her home in Wellington, which had been drawn out of the district along with the rest of the old 27th's share of Palm Beach County. She moved to Fort Myers in the new 30th, won her party's nomination unopposed, and faced off against Democratic nominee Debbie Jordan in the general election. The Naples Daily News endorsed Benacquisto for re-election, praising her for the fact that she "sponsored the Andrew Widman Act to better track dangerous criminals and the Silver Alert Program to protect seniors astray."  In the end, she was overwhelmingly re-elected, receiving 62% of the vote.
While serving in the Senate, Benacquisto voted for the controversial "parent trigger" legislation that would allow parents to turn failing public schools into charter schools, but, ultimately, the bill did not pass. She also supported legislation that would exempt "certain manufacturing equipment from the state's sales tax," so as to potentially allow manufacturing companies to expand operations within the state. Following the controversy regarding the Westboro Baptist Church's decision to protest certain funerals, Benacquisto sponsored legislation that would make it a crime "to protest within 500 feet of a funeral," noting, "We've seen these types of protests occur all across the country and it is very disappointing that folks would use the moment of grief to make a political statement. So we wanted to make a strong stand here in Florida and let everyone know that we were going to protect the time of burial and the time of grieving and the time for goodbye." Benacquisto was elected the Majority Leader of the Florida State Senate for the 2012-2014 legislative session. Recently, following the resignation of Lieutenant Governor of Florida Jennifer Carroll, she has been floated as a potential replacement.
Benacquisto's district was reconfigured and renumbered after court-ordered redistricting in 2016.
On February 3, 2014, Benacquisto announced her candidacy for the United States Congress in the 19th District of Florida. Benacquisto was endorsed by former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin in March 2014.
- Smith, Adam C. "Surprise wedding bells for Sen. Benacquisto". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
- Parker, Betty. "Benacquisto, Strayhorn divorce after nearly 4 years". Retrieved 18 February 2016.
- "Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto announces congressional run". News-Press.com. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- "Lizbeth Benacquisto "broke election law 105 times, hiding special interest contributors."". PolitiFact Florida. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Lizbeth Benacquisto's supporters "would make (abortion) illegal in all cases, including rape, incest, even to save a woman's life."". PolitiFact Florida. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Saying she was raped, state Senate candidate Benacquisto says rival Rader's attacks 'crossed the line'". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Abortion the latest flashpoint between Rader, Benacquisto in state Senate District 27". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Endorsement editorial: Florida Legislature for Collier and Lee". Naples Daily News. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Senate again rejects parent petition bill on tie vote". The News-Press. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Senate, House support sales tax exemption for manufacturing equipment". Naples Daily News. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Florida makes funeral protesting a crime". First Coast News. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Who Makes the Most Sense to Replace Jennifer Carroll?". Sunshine State News. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- Joseph, Cameron. Palin's bark bigger than her bite?, The Hill, March 29, 2014.