Ruth’s List Florida backs Michele Rayner’s HD 62 run
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 2/10/22-Rep. Michele K. Rayner, D-St. Petersburg, during the House Health & Human Services Committee discussion of the bill to institute a 15-week abortion ban, Thursday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Rayner’s The bill passed the committee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

With the new maps, Rayner will run against former Democratic Rep. Wengay Newton in the Primary.

Ruth’s List Florida has announced its endorsement of state Rep. Michele Rayner, who is running for re-election in the state House, albeit in a newly drawn district.

The organization, which works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, noted that this is Rayner’s second Ruth’s List endorsement, having received the organization’s backing in her first election in 2020. After winning the 2020 race, Rayner became the first openly gay woman of color to serve in the Florida Legislature.

“Ruth’s List could not be more excited to once again support Michele Rayner in her campaign for re-election to House District 62,” said Lucy Sedgwick, president and CEO of Ruth’s List Florida.

“Michele is one of the brightest, most passionate advocates in the state, constantly fighting for her community at the state capitol. She brings a wealth of knowledge, valuable experience, and diversity on behalf of Pinellas County to the Legislature and we know she has a long and promising political career ahead of her.”

Rayner recently suspended her congressional bid due to a controversial redistricting plan, which turned Florida’s 13th Congressional District from purple to a light shade of red. The new district extends further north into traditionally red parts of Pinellas County and eliminates parts of St. Petersburg, the currently drawn district’s largest city and a Democratic stronghold.

Rayner currently represents House District 70, which covers parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties. With the new maps, she’ll be running in House District 62, pitting her against former Democratic Rep. Wengay Newton in the Primary.

Newton held the HD 70 seat before Rayner. He unsuccessfully ran for Mayor of St. Pete in 2020. But Rayner is bringing in a hefty war chest from her congressional race. Newton’s campaign has raised just under $28,000, while Rayner’s has more than $220,000 in cash on hand.

Rayner is a civil rights lawyer and social justice advocate who previously served as an Assistant Public Defender, legislative aide and counsel for the local NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

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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