Pasco County Rep. Amber Mariano is backing Republican Kevin Steele in his run for the House District 55 seat.
Mariano, who became the youngest person ever elected to the Florida House when she was first elected in 2016, credited Steele for his business experience. In the House, Mariano chairs the Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee.
“Kevin Steele puts family first and I know he will be an advocate for competition in the marketplace and in the education space. I look forward to working with him and give him my full support,” Mariano said in a statement.
Steele is running to succeed Rep. Ardian Zika, who announced earlier this month that he would not seek a third term.
“Amber Mariano was the youngest elected state Representative in Florida history — and she did that by beating an incumbent. I’m both humbled and appreciative at her endorsement, encouragement and support,” Steele said.
Steele previously announced he would run in House District 53, though the address he lists with the Division of Elections sits in the new HD 55. The Legislature this year conducted a once-a-decade redistricting process to redraw every House seat based on the 2020 Census.
Steele’s messaging for his House campaign adopts language Gov. Ron DeSantis has stressed as he runs for re-election this year.
Steele has already garnered strong backing from state GOP leaders, including Senate President Wilton Simpson, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner.
Steele grew up in Tampa Bay and attended the University of South Florida. He later launched a successful data tech company in the health care field.
He came out strong in his first month of fundraising, raising six figures on top of a $250,000 candidate loan.
Steele joins Gabriel Papadopoulos as a Republican running to succeed Zika. Papadopoulos filed for the seat in March and has raised $1,660 in donations on top of a $1,135 loan.
The seat is a heavily Republican one, where 60.34% of voters favored Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 Presidential Election and just 38.33% voted for Democrat Joe Biden.