A slate of Tampa Bay elected leaders have announced their support for Democratic candidate Eunic Ortiz as she runs for the Senate District 18 seat.
The new endorsers include Tampa state Sen. Janet Cruz as well as state Reps. Ben Diamond and Anna Eskamani. With Democrats hoping to flip the open Senate seat this year, Ortiz has continued to pick up key Democratic supporters.
“I am proud to support Eunic Ortiz for Florida State Senate, District 18,” Cruz said in a statement. “With her experience, knowledge and drive, she is the kind of leader we need to get the work done and whom I look forward to working within the Senate to build a better Florida for all.”
“I am proud to endorse Eunic Ortiz for Florida’s State Senate because she is the leader Pinellas County families need to fight for us in Tallahassee,” Diamond added. “Floridians are looking for leaders who are consensus-builders and will reach across the aisle to find commonsense solutions to address the everyday challenges they’re facing. Working in government, as an adjunct professor, and as a union organizer, Eunic has shown a commitment to bringing people together to build a brighter future for our community. I know she will serve the people of Pinellas County well in our state capital.”
Additional endorsers include St. Petersburg Council member Copley Gerdes, Gulfport City Council member Michael Fridovich and Largo City Commissioner Jamie Robinson. Former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and former Florida Education Commissioner Betty Castor also offered support.
“Right now, we are in a critical moment where we can decide what our neighborhoods, streets, and waterways could look like for the next several generations. Pinellas County deserves leadership that will fight for their best interest in our capital. I know I can be that leader,” Ortiz said in a statement. “I am honored to have the support of these dynamic elected leaders. I look forward to working with them as a member of the Florida Senate.”
Former state Rep. Carl Zimmerman, along with former St. Pete City Council members Amy Foster and Karl Nurse also endorsed Ortiz.
These elected leaders join dozens more from across Florida including U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, state Sen. Shevrin Jones and state Rep. Michele Rayner. Several advocacy organizations have also endorsed Ortiz, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Florida Planned Parenthood PAC, Ruth’s List, Equality Florida Action PAC, Run for Something, LPAC and the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC Votes).
The district covers a large portion of Pinellas County including parts of Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Largo, Pinellas Park, Gulfport and most of the county’s coastline.
The endorsements come as Ortiz remains the only Democrat in the SD 18 race. Democrats are hoping to flip the open seat. Ortiz currently faces front-runner Republican state Rep. Nick DiCeglie. Both hope to take the seat currently held by Republican state 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, 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 Democrats on many criminal justice issues.
The seat has a slight red lean. In 2020, 47% of voters in the district supported Democratic President Joe Biden, while 52% went to former Republican President Donald Trump.