Ruth’s List Florida is backing Eunic Ortiz for Florida Senate District 24, the group announced Thursday.
The group works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.
Ortiz, who fits that bill, is running for the Pinellas County seat, which covers parts of mid- and north St. Petersburg. She seeks to replace incumbent Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes. Brandes is leaving office because of term limits.
“Ruth’s List is proud to be among the first organizations to endorse Ortiz’s campaign,” said Ruth’s List Florida President and CEO Lucy Sedgwick. “She has a proven record advocating for Democratic values and issues and we’re excited to help her make history as potentially the first lesbian in the Florida Senate.”
Ortiz faces a tough race. She’s so far the only Democrat in the race, but she would face one of two Republicans now running — current Rep. Nick DiCeglie, the front-runner, or Timothy Lewis of Largo.
As of the most recent campaign finance reports available, through September, DiCeglie has raised nearly double Ortiz, with more than $112,000 banked to her less than $60,000. Lewis hasn’t reported any contributions.
As currently drawn, Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district with 128,785 voters to 114,240 Democrats. And that advantage could grow as the Republican-led Legislature redraws districts as part of the decennial process to align with new census data.
Still, Ortiz will likely have a big boost from Democrats and their allies as they look to gain a seat in the Senate in an open race.
And she’s likely also to get backing from local and state unions. Ortiz works for one of the nation’s largest unions, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), advocating for workers’ rights, affordable health care, LGBTQ equality, public education, environmental protection and criminal justice reform.
The latter aligns with Brandes, who has for years sided with many Democrats on criminal justice issues.
“I could not be more proud to receive this endorsement from Ruth’s List Florida,” Ortiz said. “Their history of training, supporting, and electing Democratic pro-choice women precedes them. We need leaders who will fight for all Floridians, regardless of their ZIP code, to ensure they make a living wage, have access to health care, and can afford a roof over their heads. This campaign is built on the promise of that leadership, and I am humbled by the trust and support of Ruth’s List to make that a reality.”