Charlie Crist backs 23 candidates in first round of Democratic Primary endorsements
Charlie Crist. Image via AP.

Crist said he is proud to back 'this incredible group of public servants fighting to build a Florida that we all are proud to call home.'

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a front-running Democratic candidate for Governor, just unveiled his “first round” of endorsements for state House and Senate races across Florida.

Crist’s campaign announced the endorsements Friday, noting they are “a reflection of the campaign’s commitment to supporting a diverse group of leaders across the Sunshine State to deliver for everyday Floridians.”

In a statement, Crist said he is proud to back “this incredible group of public servants fighting to build a Florida that we all are proud to call home.”

He added, “More than ever, Florida needs leaders who will protect women’s reproductive freedoms, stand up for LGBTQ+ Floridians, fight for commonsense gun violence prevention and work to make Florida affordable for every single community — these are those leaders.”

Among his endorsees: Miami Gardens Sen. Shevrin Jones, a rising star within the party who is spearheading an initiative called Operation BlackOut to boost mail-in voting among minority Floridians, and Tampa Rep. Fentrice Driskell, whom House Democrats unanimously elected as Leader-designate Tuesday.

Jones is running to retain office in Senate District 35. Driskell is running for re-election in a newly mapped House District 67. Both lawmakers previously endorsed Crist for Governor.

Other incumbents he’s backing this year include Sens. Lori Berman of Boynton Beach and Tina Polsky of Boca Raton, and Reps. Christopher Benjamin of Miami Gardens, Michael Gottlieb of Davie, Dianne Hart of Tampa, Yvonne Hinson of Gainesville, Travaris McCurdy of Orlando, Michelle Rayner of St. Petersburg, Felicia Robinson of Miami Gardens, Susan Valdes of Tampa, Marie Woodson of Hollywood and Maitland Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil, who is running for Senate District 10.

Crist also threw his support behind business owner and LGBTQ community leader Janelle Perez, who is running to represent Miami-Dade County in Senate District 38, and former Orange County NAACP President Tiffany Hughes, who is seeking election in House District 39.

Other Democrats to receive a nod from Crist include Eunice Ortiz, a union worker running in Senate District 18, and House candidates Adam Benna, Allie Braswell, Lindsay Cross, A.J. D’Amico, Linda Thompson-Gonzalez, and Ashley Gantt, who is running to unseat incumbent Democratic Rep. James Bush III in House District 109.

Crist is running against Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Miami state Sen. Annette Taddeo and eight other gubernatorial hopefuls in the Democratic Primary, which takes place Aug. 23.

The winner of that contest will take on five no-party candidates and incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in the General Election on Nov. 8.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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