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2020

Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas endorse Mark Oliver in HD 70

Oliver is one of four Democrats vying to replace Wengay Newton.

The Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County is endorsing Mark Oliver for House District 70.

The LGBT wing of the local party picked Oliver out of a four-way field.

“It has been a long time since our District has had such a strong candidate such as Mark. He is the one who will be the best advocate for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Susan McGrath, president of the Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas and immediate past chair of the Pinellas Democratic Party.

Oliver faces Keisha Bell, Michelle Grimsley, incumbent Wengay Newton’s legislative aide, and civil rights attorney Michele Rayner. All four are Democrats, which opens the primary to Republican voters.

Newton is not seeking reelection and is instead seeking a seat on the Pinellas County Commission.

“I have been a strong advocate for vulnerable populations who struggle to have their voices heard. I stand with the LGBTQ+ community in their fight for equal rights and fair treatment” Oliver said.

Oliver founded the Specially Fit Foundation in 2018 to provide fitness programs and mentorship to more than 400 students with disabilities in nine schools across central Florida.

He was previously running in House District 59 to succeed Adam Hattersley who is leaving office to run for Congress.

Oliver moved back to St. Petersburg from the East Hillsborough district in hopes to expand services in his hometown.

“I am so thankful for the support of Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County. This group provides a safe place for many LGBTQ+ residents and I am adamant about learning more of their priorities and working with them to change systems and unfair practices. I hope to positively transform the way LGBTQ+ people and their communities view them, their lives, and their future,” he said.

House District 70 covers parts of Manatee, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and leans heavily democratic. Before Newton won the seat in 2016, Sen. Darryl Rouson held the district.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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