Wengay Newton will run for his former seat in the Florida House after an unsuccessful bid for St. Petersburg Mayor, he announced Saturday.
In an email to supporters of his mayoral campaign, Newton said he will be running to replace Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby, who is leaving office to run for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. He also references his loss in the Aug. 24 Primary Election, where he collected 7% of the vote, putting him in fourth place among the eight candidates and ousting him from the two-candidate run-off.
“The voters have spoken and I am ok with that. By now you know that we didn’t make it out of the Primary on Tuesday night. My heart is overjoyed just to have had the opportunity to run for Mayor of the City that I was born and raised in,” Newton wrote. “I know that my Mother is smiling down from heaven. Your support and vote was much appreciated, Thank You. Campaigns need money and resources, I never would’ve made it this far without you.”
“What’s next, I have filed to run for my old House Seat, District 70 because your current Representative has resigned to run for Congress,” Newton continues. “It would be an honor to represent you again in Tallahassee.”
(Editor’s note: Rep. Rayner-Goolsby did not resign to run. She simply chose not to seek re-election to HD 70. Both offices have two-year terms.)
Newton served eight years on City Council and was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016, serving through 2020. He did not seek reelection last year in order to run for Pinellas County Commission, a race he lost in the August primary to former Pinellas County School Board member Rene Flowers, who was ultimately elected to the board in November.
While Newton is a Democrat he has occasionally sided with Republicans on some issues, such as on a controversial toll road and on school choice issues.
Rayner-Goolsby succeeded Newton in the HD 70 seat, winning the 2020 Primary Election against three other Democrats. Rayner-Goolsby secured the seat in August since no Republican filed for the seat. Her victory was also noteworthy, becoming the first openly gay woman of color elected to the Florida Legislature.
The district covers parts of Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties, and is comprised primarily of Black residents (47%), according to it’s demographic profile. The district also has a strong Democratic advantage, a lean it will likely retain even through redistricting.
Newton faces fellow Democrat Christian Hotchkiss in the race so far. Hotchkiss filed to run in August.