Pinellas businesswoman Audrey Henson will run for state House instead of Congress. She announced her candidacy for Florida House District 60.
“These past months on the campaign trail I have met with families, business owners, students, seniors and leaders from all across our community and their pessimism about the direction of our country is comforted only by their optimism about the direction of our great state of Florida,” the St. Petersburg Republican said.
“It has become apparent to me, through these conversations, that the most direct and immediate impact I can make in our community is in our state’s Capitol.”
The College to Congress founder previously aimed to flip Florida’s 13th Congressional District and succeed U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist. That race had drawn considerable interest, especially on the Republican side, after redistricting shifted it from a seat where a majority of voters went for Joe Biden in 2020 to one where Donald Trump had handily won. Crist is now running for Governor.
With the swap, Henson will face tech entrepreneur Jarib Figueredo in a Republican Primary, which will determine who competes against Democrat Lindsay Cross in November.
Florida Speaker-designate Paul Renner shortly after Henson announced her state run put his weight behind the candidate.
“Audrey Henson has the passion, drive, and background needed to take on the next wave of challenges facing Floridians,” he tweeted. “She is the right person to amplify the voices of Pinellas County and I have faith that she will be nothing short of exemplary.”
Henson brings a platform focused on maintaining a positive business environment in Florida.
“While other states have followed the federal playbook of overtaxing, overspending, and over-regulating their residents and businesses, Florida has charted a course that values individual liberties, empowers parents while protecting our children, protects our environment and invests in our workforce,” she said. “Florida’s Legislature is the most innovative and forward-thinking legislative body in the nation and has shown over the years that it can meet challenges head on and address real issues that affect millions of Floridians.
“Our Pinellas County community expects our leaders to discuss the issues head on and provide solutions to fix them. That is why I plan to go to Tallahassee. It’s no secret that there are critical challenges holding Floridians back from reaching our true potential like workforce development, job creation, red-tide research, and infrastructure upgrades, just to name a few. I’m excited to get to work and I’m ready to deliver results for Pinellas County.”
The district is analogous to one held now by state House Rep. Ben Diamond, a St. Petersburg Democrat who also recently exited the CD 13 contest. Diamond has endorsed Cross.
It’s an uphill race for any Republican trying to flip the district red. About 54.92% of voters in the newly drawn district voted for Biden in the 2020 Presidential Election, while just 43.51% supported Trump.