Democratic House candidate Michelle Rayner announced four endorsements for her campaign to succeed exiting Rep. Wengay Newton in District 70.
Three of the nods came from current and former lawmakers representing the Tampa Bay area where HD 70 lies: Tampa Sen. Janet Cruz, former Sen. Arthenia Joyner and former Rep. Sean Shaw. Rep. Shevrin Jones, who represents part of Broward county, also joined in.
Joyner’s endorsement was expected — Rayner was one of her legislative staffers.
“I have watched as Michele Rayner has fought tirelessly for her community and the people of the State of Florida her entire career,” Joyner.
“From starting her career as my legislative aide and going on to become an attorney, she is committed to the community and working to create solutions that benefit not only District 70, but the State of Florida. She is prepared to lead HD 70 on day one.”
Shaw added, “There’s no doubt about Michele Rayner’s commitment to the people of our great state. As corporations and special interests continue to put profits over people, we need someone in Tallahassee to stand up for everyday Floridians, and Michele is that leader.”
Cruz’ and Jones’ endorsements referenced Rayner’s work representing the family of Markeis McGlockton, a man gunned down in a Clearwater parking lot in 2018 whose case reignited debate about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
“Michele is a fighter with a proven track record of standing up against injustice,” Cruz said. “She is the right person to lead this community in a new way. I look forward to working with Michele Rayner in Tallahassee to bring home solutions for Tampa Bay.”
Jones added, “While representing the loved ones of Markeis McGlockton, I saw her advocacy in action. Michele is the kind of leader the people of Florida need in the State House.”
Rayner is one of four candidates competing for the Democratic nomination, and Wednesday’s endorsements and the endorsements from area leaders could set her apart despite her late entry into the race.
“I am extremely grateful for the support of State Legislators Cruz, Joyner, Jones, and Shaw as we seek to provide solutions to the issues Floridians face every day,” Rayner said. “I look forward to working with these highly respected members of our state as the next State Representative for District 70 to provide equitable access to affordable housing, clean air and water, education, employment and other basic essentials required for healthy, stable, thriving lives.”
Rayner faces Keisha Bell, Michelle Grimsley and Mark Oliver. Republican Sharon Russ is also running, though HD 70 is a safe Democratic seat. It covers parts of Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.
Newton announced earlier this year he would not seek reelection and is instead running for Pinellas County Commission.