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Darren Soto announces 20 local endorsements in CD 9 race

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto‘s re-election campaign announced 20 endorsements from local elected officials in his battle with former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson for the Democratic primary in Florida’s 9th Congressional District.

The endorsements came from state Sen. Victor Torres; state Reps. John Cortes, Amy Mercado, Carlos Guillermo Smith and Kamia Brown; Kissimmee Mayor José Alvarez; Lake Wales Mayor Eugene Fultz; Osceola Sheriff Russell Gibson; Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla; Osceola County Commissioners Brandon Arrington and Cheryl Grieb; Orlando City Commissioner Sam Ings; Kissimmee City Commissioner Angela Eady; Haines City Commissioners Morris West and Horace West; Winter Haven City Commissioner Nat Birdsong; Lake Wales City Commissioners Curtis Gibson and Tonya Stewart; Osceola School Board Member Kelvin Soto; and Orange Soil and Water Conservation Board Chairman Eric Rollings.

Soto’s campaign noted that they join the previous endorsements by every Democratic member of Florida’s congressional delegation, announced earlier.

CD 9 covers Osceola County, south Orange County, and East Polk County.

“I have known Congressman Darren Soto since his first run for office during a special election for a House seat. As a matter of fact, my grandchildren were volunteers in that first campaign. We’ve worked together since, for our respective communities in central Florida. I have children and grandchildren living here. It is important to me to have good, honorable role models for them, like Congressman Darren Soto,” Torres stated in a news release from Soto’s campaign.

“No one has worked harder for union members, students, seniors and now all the climate evacuees that have blessed central Florida with their arrival than Congressman Darren Soto. As a retired police officer and former marine myself, l can tell you that Darren vehemently supports veterans and first responders. Darren lives and works in central Florida, and when he is not in Washington, DC fighting for us he is in his district standing with us!

“Darren gets it!”

Alan Grayson gets backing of Blue America PAC in CD 9 Democratic race

Former Congressman Alan Grayson has garnered the backing of Blue America PAC in his challenge to U.S. Rep. Darren Soto in Florida’s 9th Congressional District Democratic primary battle.

The national progressive organization dedicated to replacing “to replace the bipartisan Conservative Consensus in Congress with a strong and activated progressive movement,” endorsed Grayson while blasting the elections of “more Blue Dogs and New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party.”

Soto, who succeeded Grayson in 2016 after beating his wife Dena Grayson in the Democratic primary while Alan Grayson ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate, is a member of the New Democrats Coalition, but is not a member of the Blue Dog Democrats Coalition. He also has been pushing his own progressive Democratic chops, and has announced several endorsements by progressives and progressive groups, including the Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which he is a member.

Grayson was a leader of that caucus and is running as he always has, as an unabashed progressive Democrat.

The winner of the primary will face Republican businessman Wayne Liebnitzky in the general election. Soto beat Liebnitzky in 2016.

“I’m running for Congress because our progressive goals — justice, equality and peace — need a champion in Congress,” Grayson stated in a Blue America PAC statement issued by his campaign. “Think about it. Who can you think of, in the U.S. House of Representatives, whom you would call a champion for progress? On a good day, one or two or three of them. On a bad day, none.

“We need someone in Congress who actually knows how to get things done. And I passed 121 pieces of legislation — more than anyone else — even when the Republicans were in charge,” he added.

Blue America PAC blasted Soto, calling him, “a bump on a log New Dem who slithered out of the state legislature.”

Grayson, the PAC stated, is “better than your garden variety bump on a log congressmember — making people’s lives better, not just a career in self-service.”

Darren Soto versus Alan Grayson showdown set

The Democratic primary showdown between U.S. Rep. Darren Soto and his predecessor Alan Grayson officially became a two-man battle Friday afternoon as ballot qualifying closed for Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

The winner will be met by Republican candidate Wayne Liebnitzky, who drew no Republican primary challengers between him and the November general election.

Soto, completing his first term representing CD 9, covering Osceola County, south Orange County, and eastern Polk County, is an Orlando lawyer and former Florida state representative and state senator.

Grayson, who served CD 9 for two terms and CD 10 for one term, is an Orlando lawyer who took the past couple years off from politics after losing the Democratic primary for Florida’s U.S. Senate race in 2016.

Their battle for the August 28 Democratic primary is expected to be a bruising, marquee contest.

Liebnitzky, a St. Cloud businessman, lost the 2016 general election to Soto.

He is the only candidate of the three who qualified for the ballot this time by petition, turning in more than 5,000 certified signatures. Soto and Grayson sent in $10,440 checks.

Another Republican had filed, but Sean Buchan stepped out of the race months ago without formally withdrawing and did not qualify for the ballot.

Darren Soto calls for election battle about ‘respect and dignity’

Digging in for a potentially bruising primary battle, Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto kicked off his 2018 re-election campaign Thursday with a rally at which he called for an election about “respect and dignity… humility and service.”

The call appeared as a response to Tuesday’s news that Soto now faces his predecessor Democratic former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson in a primary battle for Florida’s 9th Congressional District. Grayson already has shown his fighting form, attacking Soto’s record and commitment to progressive causes.

“People are sick of nasty politics and I plan to rise above it once again,” Soto said, without mentioning Grayson by name. “As First Lady Michelle Obama once famously said, ‘when they go low, we go high.'”

The reference could only be to Grayson, as the only Republican in the field, Saint Cloud businessman Wayne Liebnitzky has largely refrained from attacking Soto, except on policy debates.

In a 12-minute speech in Kissimmee with a handful of supporters beside him, including state Sen. Victor Torres and state Rep. John Cortes, who both represent Kissimmee, Soto laid out some of his positions, efforts, and accomplishments on issues ranging from Puerto Rico relief and recovery to Social Security. Some of the statements sounded, in part, like rebuttals to Grayson’s opening criticisms on Tuesday.

Yet Soto’s speech also was offered as an affirmation of the freshman congressman’s first 16 months in office.

And he pledged a positive campaign and called for a united Democratic party.

“Like in 2016 we face another major Democratic primary,” said Soto, who beat Grayson’s wife Dena Grayson, among other Democrats, in the 2016 primary. “And it has already become nasty. As with back then, I will continue to run a positive and inspiring campaign. We’ll focus on the issues that matter to us as Democrats.”

Soto highlighted his efforts to help with hurricane relief in both Florida and Puerto Rico, and a whole host of progressive policies from supporting labor unions to supporting the gay community, from advocating to reinstate the assault weapons ban to sponsorship of a sexual harassment bill, and from opposing the Republican tax reform bill, to opposing President Donald Trump‘s wall.

In particular, Soto focused on his environmental record, noting he is the only Florida member of Congress with a 100 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters, saying, “many of you know I am thrilled to lead the charge for the Florida delegation to keep oil drilling off our shores, to protect our waters and beaches, to save the Everglades, and to protect critical wildlife corridors.”

Afterwords, speaking with the press, Soto took issue with one of Grayson’s points of criticism, when the former congressman accused Soto of ignoring the call by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to vote against a funding bill unless the Republicans agreed to extend the DREAMers Act. Soto maintained that he always has been a strong supporter of that act, and still intends to pursue “a clean bill” providing legal status to young, undocumented immigrants. But he noted that the funding bill he voted for included money for Puerto Rico and Florida hurricane relief. The bill passed.

“Grayson attacked me for that. That’s a key difference. I’m willing to cross the aisle for the betterment of our state, along with half the Democrats, and half the Republicans,” Soto said. “And I stand in favor of Puerto Rico, and he obviously stands against the disaster relief.”

Soto also disputed Grayson’s claim that he has accomplished nothing. Soto offered he was behind numerous bills and amendments that have been approved.

“This is a diverse district. It’s Democratic leaning but not overwhelmingly so. So while I will continue to fight for progressive values, and I got the endorsement of my peers in and in the progressive caucus as a result, it also takes reaching across the aisle to work on issues that matter to the district, like disaster relief, like citrus greening, like protecting our environment,” Soto said. “We passed dozens of amendments.”

Alan Grayson comes out ready to brawl

Former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson is entering the Democratic primary field against his successor U.S. Rep. Darren Soto ready to brawl, already going after the incumbent as someone he said has done nothing meaningful regarding the district, Puerto Rico, or President Donald Trump.

In an interview Tuesday morning, Grayson took the fighting stance that recalled his image, during three terms in Congress, as a puncher, and he contended that a fighter is needed now in the time of Trump. And Grayson immediately took swings at Soto.

Grayson said his paperwork to run in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, “my old seat,” has been submitted.

“I take no pleasure in saying this saying this because my own sense is I want what is best for the people in Central Florida. But I think he’s been entirely ineffective,” Grayson said of Soto. “I literally can’t think of anything meaningful he’s accomplished in the 16 months he’s been on the job.”

Grayson compared his perception of Soto to his self perception of his own record, serving CD 9 from 2012-’16, and serving in Florida’s Congressional District 10 from 2008-’10. Grayson took credit for bringing the new Veterans Administration Hospital to Orlando; for getting funding to extend SunRail into “the minority southern end of town,” for “fending off the Obama administration’s decision to close [the air traffic control operations at] the Kissimmee Airport;” and for bringing in an extra $100 million in competitive federal grants for the district.

“And… I passed more legislation than any other member of Congress, 121 amendments, bills and resolutions, in four years,” Grayson said. “I don’t see that kind of activity or anything remotely resembling that activity from the Soto office. And I think both the region and Puerto Rico are suffering for it.”

Soto quickly responded with a written statement defending his record on progressive values, and on building local alliances. The latter observation was a jab back at Grayson, whose bombastic  character has often alienated him, even among party regulars.

“I have been endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and every Democratic member of the Florida House delegation precisely because I have stood up for progressive values in Congress and delivered for the district,” Soto stated. “I will be joined by numerous local and state officials and supporters on Thursday to launch my reelection campaign. In contrast, Grayson stands alone today pushing his typical self-promoting smearfest.”

Grayson contended that polls show him doing very well against Soto. And he argued that he did better with voters within CD 9 during the 2016 Democratic primary, when Grayson ran against eventual U.S. Senate nominee Patrick Murphy and Pam Keith, while Soto ran against Grayson’s wife Dena Grayson and Grayson’s former congressional office field director Susannah Randolph, in the CD 9 primary.

There is at least one Republican running this year in CD 9. Wayne Liebnitzky, whom Soto beat in the general election last time, said his paperwork also has been submitted for the 2018 election. Yet barring unforeseen developments, this seat, representing Osceola County, eastern Polk County, and southern Orange County, likely will be decided in the Democratic primary on August 28.

Liebnitzky said the race should be about integrity.

Grayson’s references to Puerto Rico essentially are preemptive. Soto is of Puerto Rican descent, in a district that has the largest concentration of Puerto Rican residents of any in Florida, a community that has grown dramatically in the past couple of years.

While Soto has been very active pushing for relief and support for Puerto Rico, and visited the island several times since Hurricane Maria devastated it last September, Grayson contends he was ineffective in actually getting help for the island, and that he failed in preventing tax changes that punish Puerto Rico in the new tax reform law Congress approved late last year.

“I was constantly blocking efforts, and reversing efforts, to discriminate against Puerto Rico when I was in Congress,” Grayson said. “And this has been the worst year in history for Puerto Rico, not only because of the hurricane, but because of the vicious discrimination that has been perpetrated against Puerto Rico since then that Darren has been unable or unwilling to try to stop.”

The former congressman didn’t stop there. He took on Soto over a wide range of progressive Democratic issues. Among them, Grayson contended that the incumbent abandoned U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi‘s call to vote against the budget continuing resolution because it did not extend the DREAMers program, and that he made statements in his 2016 campaign suggesting he was “open minded” about cutting Social Security benefits.

Then there is Trump. In the past year Grayson, a lawyer who specialized in whistle-blower cases, established a political action committee with the stated goal of ending Trump’s presidency, called LockHimUpNow.Org.

Grayson charged that Soto has twice voted against impeachment efforts in the House. Grayson vowed he would fully support impeachment, immediately, charging that evidence indicates Trump was complicit in the hacking theft of “tens of thousands” of Democratic Party files, and that coverup evidence already includes Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey “over that Russia thing,” paraphrasing Trump’s interview statements.

“Somebody has to stand up to this bully,” Grayson said of Trump. “And I don’t see that happening right now with Soto.”

Alan Grayson entering CD 9 to take on Darren Soto

Former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson wants his old seat back, and is preparing to file Tuesday to take on fellow Democrat and incumbent U.S. Rep. Darren Soto in Florida’s 9th Congressional District.

Grayson, who has been preparing for months for a last-minute announcement on a new run for Congress, holding back only the where, not the what or when, told WESH-TV News that he is filing in Florida’s 9th Congressional Disrict, which he represented from 2012-2016, before he left it for a failed run for the U.S. Senate.

Grayson also represented Florida’s 10th Congressional District from 2008-2010. In recent weeks he has hinted about seeking possible returns in either of those districts, as well as possibly in several others in the Central Florida area.

Soto, a former state senator, was elected in 2016 to represent the district covering Osceola County, eastern Polk County, and southern Orange County.

Grayson told WESH-TV that polling suggests he remains popular in CD 9, and that he believes he has more appeal among Hispanic voters than does Soto, who is of Puerto Rican descent, “because people know that I’ve done useful things.”

Both Soto and Grayson are lawyers.

The leading Republican in the race is Saint Cloud businessman Wayne Liebnitzky, who said he expects to qualify Tuesday for the ballot.

Soto is formally kicking off his re-election campaign at a rally Thursday morning in Kissimmee.

Grayson’s political star rose during his first term in Congress when he said Republicans’ health care plan for America was “Don’t get sick … and if you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly.”

That and other provocative comments played well with the far-left contingent of the Democratic Party and earned him plenty of appearances as a talking head on shows such as HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, but they were less well-received by DNC higherups, who kept Grayson at arms length for most of his political career — a status he still wears like a badge of honor in campaign emails.

By 2016, Democratic leaders were openly contemptuous of Grayson, with former U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid telling him “I hope you lose” during the 2016 Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate.

And lose he did.

Democrats unleashed a torrent of opposition research on one of their own, alleging Grayson had a history of spousal abuse. While his culpability remains hazy — Grayson’s daughter spoke in his defense and said her mother’s domestic abuse calls, including one against her, were bogus — the allegations played no small part in Grayson’s dismal 18 percent showing in the primary race. He also faced serious questions over a hedge fund he managed while a congressman.

How those scandals and his at times abrasive personality will play in his former district remains to be seen. He was indeed popular among his constituents, who elected him to the new CD 9 in 2012 with 63 percent of the vote and re-elected him with 54 percent of the vote two years later in a Republican wave election that saw Democrats lose 13 seats nationwide.

A Patrick Murphy-David Jolly gubernatorial run isn’t the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but …

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy seems to be under the mistaken impression that because he was his party’s standard-bearer in the 2016 U.S. Senate race, that he is the party’s leader.

So when the Democrat watched last week’s televised debate among the four announced gubernatorial candidates, Murphy, according to a source very familiar with his thinking about what he may be planning, sized up the field and said, ‘Hey, I can do better than that.’

While there’s no arguing with Murphy’s concept that Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and Chris King looked like, as the Tampa Bay Times’ Tim Nickens observed, they are not ready for prime time or with his conceit that he may be able to do better than that quartet, the possibility of a Patrick Murphy-David Jolly gubernatorial ticket isn’t the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s not only implausible, it’s practically insulting.

After putting down Alan Grayson in the Democratic primary in 2016, Murphy ran a lackluster campaign against Marco Rubio, losing worse than he should have.

After redistricting shaded his congressional district more blue than red, Jolly lost a quixotic bid to hang on to a seat that had become decidedly Democratic.

Since those campaigns, Murphy and Jolly have fostered a friendship and have traveled across the U.S. on their tour “Why gridlock rules Washington and how we can solve the crisis.

The duo has become the toast of editorial boards everywhere.

Politicos who yearn for a “third way” in American politics would love to see a Murphy-Jolly ticket, just as they wanted to see a John Kerry-John McCain unity ticket in 2004.

You know who is not clamoring for a Murphy-Jolly ticket? Florida voters, especially Democratic ones. And Murphy will quickly find that out in the polling he has commissioned to gauge his statewide viability.

Oh sure, when asking voters generically about, say, ‘two centrist leaders with experience in government,’ the numbers will be through the roof, but when you ballot-test Murphy-Jolly vs. the field, reality will set in.

What Murphy wants Democratic primary voters to do is pick him, a two-term congressman (hey, that’s twice as long as Graham’s time in D.C.) with a bent for moderation over a field of tried-and-true progressives. Part of his plan is a commitment to name as his running mate a former Republican lawmaker and lobbyist who agrees with very little in the Democratic platform other than Donald Trump is no bueno.

If this weren’t Florida politics, I’d say you were making this all up.

Unfortunately, this is reality and here’s where my words get serious. For one, Murphy’s plan to name Jolly as his running mate should be taken as an insult by true Democrats. They’ve been in the wilderness for more than twenty years, and now, with their first genuine shot of winning back the Governor’s Mansion, Murphy (a former Republican himself) wants to enlist the help of his while male buddy to get the job done. Neither of whom has worked day one in state government.

Democrats should tell him thanks, but no thanks. They should tell Murphy he’s more than welcome to join the Democratic primary, as candidate qualifying doesn’t close for a month. But they should insist he commit to not naming any Republican — be it Jolly or someone else — to the ticket.

I may be down on a Murphy-Jolly ticket, but I do have to give Murphy credit for something. Like John Morgan, he’s helped expose the weaknesses of this Democratic field — that Gillum is too radical, that Graham is over-emotive on the stump and underwhelming on fundraising calls, that Levine is from that foreign land known as Miami-Dade, and that King begins his day reading the Sayfie Review.

All four of these candidates continue to plead to party activists and the media that they are the real deal.

One of the four may eventually become something like the real deal, but because they’re not now, the door is open for one of the most interesting political partnerships since Matt Santos named Arnold Vinik his Secretary of State.

Alan Grayson raises $192K in first quarter, says ‘I am running for Congress’ … somewhere

Democratic former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson said Monday he definitely is running for Congress but insisted he still hasn’t decided where yet, as his campaign reports raising $192,000 in the first quarter of 2018.

“I am running for the U.S. House of Representatives,” Grayson said Monday.

But the decision as to which district, “gets answered during the qualifying period,” he added.

Qualifying for the U.S. House of Representatives ballot opens on April 30 and runs through May 4.

Grayson, who served one term representing Florida’s 10th Congressional District and two representing Florida’s 9th Congressional District in Central Florida, is officially filed to run in Florida’s 11th Congressional District this time. However, he maintains he is just holding a spot for his paperwork, so that he can raise money while assessing his options.

In the latest reports, Grayson’s committee raised $192,018, including $71,358 in contributions so small that they need not be itemized, with a total of more than 5,000 individual donations. The committee also spent $53,567 and entered April with $694,967 in the bank.

The progressive Democratic hardliner pointed out that, thanks in part to redistricting, he has represented constituents now scattered about six different congressional districts, including CD 11, CD 10, and CD 9, as well as Florida’s 6th, 7th, and 8th Congressional Districts.

His last two terms were in CD 9, which now covers south Orange County, Osceola County and eastern Polk County, and now is represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto. Soto’s campaign has been bracing for him to put up a primary challenge.

Grayson’s first term was in CD 10, now covering western Orange County and now represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings.

CD 6, now stretching from south of Jacksonville through Volusia County and into Lake County, is likely to be an open seat as Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is running for governor.

Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey represents CD 8, mostly in Brevard County with a sliver of eastern Orange County.

CD 7, covering Seminole and north and central Orange counties, is now represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

CD 11, where Grayson is currently filed, covers northwestern Lake County and west-central Florida stretching to The Villages and Spring Hill and is represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, who beat Grayson in the 2010 election.

Grayson’s wife Dena Grayson, who ran for Congress in CD 9 in 2016, losing the Democratic primary to Soto, also is filed as a candidate in 2018, this time in CD 8. Her campaign did not raise any money in the first quarter of 2018 and finished with about $738 in the bank.

In an unrelated campaign move, Alan Grayson’s campaign appointed his daughter Star Grayson, 19, as treasurer, according to paperwork filed this past weekend.

The Graysons are Windermere-area residents, which is in CD 10. Yet residency has never been a big concern for Alan Grayson.

“The question always is, ‘What do the voters want?’ We’re determining the voters will, and we will act accordingly,” Alan Grayson said.

Darren Soto endorsed by 10 other members of Fla. congressional district

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto has received endorsements from all ten of the other Democratic members of Congress from Florida, his re-election campaign announced Friday.

The announced endorsements would come as no surprise and seemingly fill no particularly-urgent campaign purpose, since Soto’s only opponent thus far in Florida’s 9th Congressional District is a Republican, St. Cloud businessman Wayne Liebnitzky. However, the announcement may send a discouraging signal toward any potential Democratic primary challengers, notably former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who’s been mulling a comeback run, possibly against Soto for his old CD 9 seat.

Six of those who endorsed Soto in Friday’s announcement, U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Alcee Hastings, Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Frederica Wilson, all served with Grayson in the 114th Congress, and before. U.S. Reps. Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, Val Demings, and Charlie Crist all were first elected with Soto in 2016 to the 115th Congress.

Said Frankel, from West Palm Beach, “Darren Soto is one of the finest new leaders of his generation. He is all that women hope for in a male ally. He supports equal rights for women across the board. He fights for a woman’s right to choose 100 percent of the time. He demands health care for women and families. And he practices what he preaches – he hires women equally, promotes women equally, and pays women equally. And he has the stats to prove it.”

“Darren is not afraid to stand for what’s right. Before Parkland, his community was torn apart by gun violence. And he stood up, he took on the NRA. He will not forget the victims of gun violence when the media moves on. Soto will work day and night until our children our protected from guns,” Frankel added. “Darren succeeds the old fashioned way — through hard work. Darren is a new-generation leader who isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and do the work you need to do to succeed. He’s pragmatic, he’s in public service to get stuff done for Florida. He served in the trenches in Tallahassee like I did. He’s seen every dirty trick the Republicans pull, and he has fought them all — without the name-calling and childishness that often consumes Washington.”

Darren Soto gets backing of Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC

Orlando Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto just received the backing of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Political Action Committee, an endorsement he might need as a buffer against a possible primary challenge by a congressman who once was a big voice for that caucus.

“Darren Soto is a fighter for economic justice. He works tirelessly for working Americans, and he always has. He marches for civil rights and civil liberties — for Dreamers, for Muslims, for LGBTQ Americans,” Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC Co-Chair Mark Pocan said in a news release issued by Soto’s re-election campaign. “The struggle for women’s equality has no better friend than Darren. Soto supports healthcare for all, a strong social safety net, and robust protections for workers who want to organize and fight for better wages and working conditions.”

Right now the endorsement appears more as a possible weapon for Soto’s only opponent in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, Republican candidate Wayne Liebnitzky of St. Cloud. Liebnitzky, whom Soto beat in 2016, is campaigning on a firm conservative platform and seeking to characterize Soto as too liberal for the district.

“He has only done what party leader [Nancy] Pelosi directed him to do, instead of taking care of the area,” Liebnitzky said. He added, “I guess I won’t lose any sleep tonight awaiting their endorsement.”

Yet off in the wings is the previous incumbent in the district, former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who had been one of the most strident progressive Democrats in Congress during his three terms. Grayson reportedly has been talking to Democratic consultants, trying to assemble a team to possibly challenge Soto in a CD 9 primary. In the 2016 primary, Soto took a more moderate overall tack to defeat two Democratic opponents with purely progressive platforms and close ties to Grayson: his wife Dena Grayson, and former aide, Susannah Randolph.

In Congress Soto has striven particularly to be a strong environmental champion. Pocan also praised him for other issues.

“Soto knows we must defend our planet today — or our children will have no tomorrow. He’s not afraid to fight the corporate interests that created the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Wall Street financial crisis, and the opioid epidemic,” Pocan stated. “Darren knows that hard working Americans are hurt the most when greed runs wild, and he fights for those families with everything he’s got. Darren’s a rising leader with a bright future. The Progressive Caucus stands with Darren because he embodies progressive values — he stands for the people, not for the privileged.”

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