Ken Welch picks up slew of endorsements from St. Pete’s LGBTQ community

Welch, Ken - 2
'My friends and supporters are the foundation of this campaign.'

Former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch has picked up more than two dozen LGBTQ advocates as endorsers for his St. Petersburg mayoral campaign.

Those endorsers include Brian Longstreth, owner of the Gay St. Pete House, former St. Pete City Council member Steve Kornell, and Largo County Commissioner Michael Smith.

“My friends and supporters are the foundation of this campaign,” Welch said in a statement. “I’m proud to have fought alongside so many LGBTQ rights advocates during my time at the County. We cannot be an inclusive community without giving everyone a seat at the table. I will continue to fight for equality day in and day out as your next Mayor.”

Welch’s list of LGBTQ supporters also includes Rep. Michele Rayner, who recently announced her support of Welch, and St. Pete City Council member Amy Foster, who was one of Welch’s first endorsers.

The endorsements from members of the LGBTQ community may provide Welch a boost among LGBTQ voters, a bloc that fellow mayoral candidate and St. Petersburg City Council member Darden Rice has also been appealing to. Rice would be the first openly LGBTQ leader to run the city, if elected, and has garnered support from pro-LGBTQ groups Equality Florida Action PAC, LPAC, and LGBTQ Victory Fund.

The LGBTQ community is an important bloc for candidates, with St. Pete being one of the state’s most gay-friendly cities. Since 2014, St. Pete has earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI), which examines the laws, policies, and services of municipalities and rates them based on their inclusivity of LGBTQ people who live and work there. And, the city is host to the state’s largest Pride celebration.

The two leading Democrats have continued to go head-to-head in the race, with the latest spat involving mailers sent by Rice’s affiliated political committee tying Welch to Donald Trump supporters. Rice quickly drew criticism for the mailers and has since responded.

But, the latest polling shows Welch as the race’s front-runner, followed by Republican City Council member Robert Blackmon. In the Primary, Welch leads with just over 23% support, and Blackmon trails slightly at just under 22%.

Welch has also been raking in notable endorsements lately, including bipartisan support. Just recently, former St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster, a Republican, announced his support of Welch. Less than a week before that, current Democratic Mayor Rick Kriseman, who is vacating the seat due to term limits, also endorsed Welch.

Welch has also garnered endorsements from former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard, Gulfport Mayor Samuel Henderson, Dunedin Mayor Julie Bujalski, and Tarpon Springs Mayor David Archie. Hibbard and Archie are both Republicans, the rest Democrats.

The following is the list of Welch supporters who advocate for the LQBTQ community:

— Rep. Michele Rayner

Amy Foster, St. Pete City Council member

Steve Kornell, former  St. Pete City Council member

Michael Smith, Largo Commissioner

Bobby Poth, Mainframe Real Estate

Brian Longstreth, Gay St Pete House

— Bryan Farris, political consultant

Andy Johnson, meteorologist

— Dr. Matthew Stewart, LGBTQ advocate

Tim Staney LGBTQ advocate

Bob Devin Jones, artistic director

Larry Biddle, LGBTQ advocate

Aaron Horcha, Past President St Pete Pride

John Gascot, artist

Mathieu Chin, financial adviser

Andrew Citino, small business owner

Tristan Byrnes, gender therapist

David Tucker, LGBTQ advocate

Paul Ray, Gulfport Council member

Susan McGrath, LGBTQ advocate

Nick Janovsky, principal at St. Pete Development Comapny

Rand Snell, composer and artist

Rick Boylan, LGBTQ advocate

Beth Fountain, Lawyer

Tony Meredith, LGBTQ advocate

Rachel Covello, owner of OutCoast.com

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]



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