U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is endorsing Democratic candidate Eunic Ortiz in her run for the Senate District 24 seat.
Crist said Ortiz’s work in local government and advocacy drove him to endorse her.
“Eunic has a proven track record of advocating for working families, educators, and higher wages. Floridians need leaders who are concerned about the issues that matter most, like expanding access to affordable housing, protecting the vote, and a livable wage,” Crist said in a statement. “Eunic is hardworking, dedicated to the community I call home, and a trusted leader who I am proud to endorse as the next Senator for District 24.”
SD 24 represents a large portion of Pinellas County including parts of Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Largo, Pinellas Park and Gulfport. Notably, Crist was first elected into office in a similar state Senate seat in 1992.
“We are at a critical moment in our community’s history. Right now, we can decide what our neighborhoods, streets, and waterways could look like for the next several generations. And one way we will decide that future (is) based on who we elect to office,” Ortiz said in a statement. “I am honored to have the support of Congressman Charlie Crist. 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.”
Crist is the latest endorser of Ortiz, who also has been backed by Democratic lawmakers including Rep. Michele Rayner, who is currently running a Congressional campaign, as well as Pinellas County Commissioners Rene Flowers and Pat Gerard.
The heavily Democratic endorsements come as Ortiz remains the only Democrat in the SD 24 race. Democrats are hoping to flip the open seat. Ortiz currently faces front-runner Republican Rep. Nick DiCeglie. Both hope to take the seat currently held by Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, who is leaving office due to term limits.
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.