Michele Rayner joins nine other Pinellas County elected officials to back Eunic Ortiz for SD 24
Eunic Ortiz lines up some solid Democratic endorsements.

Ortiz faces state Rep. Nick DiCeglie for the seat.

Ten Pinellas County-based elected officials are backing Eunic Ortiz in her run for Senate District 24, where she hopes to replace out-going Sen. Jeff Brandes.

The list of new endorsements include state Rep. Michele Rayner, who is currently running a Congressional campaign, as well as Pinellas County Commissioners Rene Flowers and Pat Gerard. 

St. Pete Beach Mayor Alan Johnson, St. Pete Council member Deborah Figgs-Sanders and St. Pete Council member-elect Richie Floyd also joined in as endorsers.

“Eunic and I have a shared goal: to make sure the communities we represent in Pinellas County have a clean environment to thrive in, equitable access to healthcare and housing, and to make sure our small businesses and entrepreneurs have a bright future ahead in our great State,” Rayner said in a statement. “Eunic has a record of advocacy for our most vulnerable and she is on the right side of the issues we are facing like finding solutions for affordable housing and making sure our workforce is not displaced. That is why she is the only choice to represent Florida Senate District 24 and add a fresh voice for the people in our legislature.”

The heavily Democratic endorsements come as Ortiz remains the only Democrat in the SD 24 race, which Democrats are hoping to flip in the open race. Ortiz currently faces front-runner Republican Rep. Nick DiCeglie.

The district covers a large portion of Pinellas County including parts of Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Largo, Pinellas Park, Gulfport and most of the county’s coastline.

“A vote for Eunic is a vote for the future of Pinellas County. We need a fighter in Tallahassee to protect our local governments from the overreach and bad policies coming from our State’s leadership,” Gerard said in a statement. “Eunic has been a vocal supporter of our diverse communities in Pinellas County and I know she will be a vocal supporter of our local governments and will work in partnership, not against us, to decide what is best for our residents.”

Ortiz also collected endorsements from Clearwater City Council member Kathleen Beckman, Gulfport City Council member Paul Ray, Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith and Largo City Commissioner Eric Gerard. 

“Pinellas County is at a critical moment in our community’s history where we will determine the future for the next several generations,”Ortiz said in a statement. “We have a unique opportunity to elect transformative leaders who understand and will work to find solutions to Pinellas County’s affordable housing crisis, sustainability, and how we can bring more good paying jobs to our community. Earning the support of these dynamic leaders is a true honor and I look forward to working with them as a member of the Florida Senate and Pinellas Delegation.”

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.

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.

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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