The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a national LGBTQ rights group, is endorsing eight new Democratic candidates in state Legislative races across Florida this cycle.
Headlining that list is Rep. Shevrin Jones, who is pursuing the Senate District 35 seat in 2020. Jones is being termed out of the House after eight years. He’s the only Senate candidate among the NRC’s new batch of endorsements.
“Our people-first campaign is committed to fighting for dignity, respect, fairness, and equality for all Floridians, and I am honored to have the Human Rights Campaign alongside us in this fight,” Jones said Wednesday.
“HRC is a trusted organization that has led on equality for our community for decades, and while we’ve made some great strides in recent years, there is more work to be done. With HRC’s support, I look forward to continuing this important work.”
Jones has easily led the seven person field in fundraising. He’s one of six Democrats competing in the contest. Write-in candidate Darien Hill has also qualified.
“Right now, over 770,000 LGBTQ Floridians live in a patchwork of protections,” said HRC Associate Regional Campaign Director Ryan Wilson. in a Wednesday statement announcing the endorsements.
“Driving from Miami to Pensacola, an LGBTQ person would have different rights in every town, city or county they drove through. That must change, and while the Bostock ruling has provided some workplace protections, LGBTQ Floridians are still at risk of discrimination in housing, education, public accommodations or businesses.
“In the coming weeks, HRC will mobilize the over 3.9 million Equality Voters across the state to ensure we have the strongest slate of pro-equality candidates to elect in November as possible.”
The group is also backing a pair of incumbent lawmakers as they seek reelection in the House. The HRC is endorsing Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith in House District 49 and Rep. Jennifer Webb in House District 69. Both are facing a Republican challenger but are unopposed in their respective Democratic primaries.
Rounding out the list are five additional Democratic challengers in contests across the state.
The HRC is supporting Joshua Hicks as he seeks to oust GOP Rep. Cord Byrd in House District 11. Those two are the only candidates who qualified in the contest and will face off in November. The district leans conservative.
In House District 70, the HRC will back Michele Rayner in her effort to succeed Rep. Wengay Newton. Rayner is one of four Democrats battling for the seat. That field includes Newton’s legislative assistant Michelle Grimsley. The winner of the Aug. 18 Democratic primary will take the seat, as no other candidates have qualified.
The HRC is also stepping into three different South Florida races, endorsing Jasmen Rogers-Shaw in House District 95, Javier Estevez in House District 105 and Ricky Junquera in House District 118.
Rogers-Shaw is mounting a primary challenge to incumbent Democratic Rep. Anika Omphroy. The winner of that two-way battle on Aug. 18 will secure the seat.
Estevez is seeking a second chance at the HD 105 seat after narrowly losing in the 2018 general election to Republican candidate Ana Maria Rodriguez. The seat is open once again in 2020, as Rodriguez is seeking a Senate seat. Estevez is competing against immigration attorney Maureen Porras for the Democratic nomination. Three Republicans have also qualified in the race.
Junquera is looking to flip the HD 118 seat, which is currently held by GOP Rep. Anthony Rodriguez. Rodriguez won that seat for Republicans in 2018, ousting Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio.