State Rep. Michele Rayner has announced endorsements from a slate of Democratic colleagues from both the House and Senate, including Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book.
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. Sens. Janet Cruz, Shevrin Jones, Jason Pizzo, Bobby Powell and Darryl Rouson joined Book in endorsing Rayner, who is running against former Rep. Wengay Newton in the Primary.
“I am proud to endorse Representative Michele Rayner’s re-election to the Florida House because she is a champion and invaluable voice for women’s rights, Florida families dealing with the housing crisis, and the LGBTQ+ community which has faced constant attacks from the power-grabbing Florida GOP,” Book said in a statement.
“I am thrilled to continue working alongside Rep. Rayner in Tallahassee and to collaborate on solutions for our constituencies and all Floridians.”
Rayner also pulled endorsements from House Leader Evan Jenne and Reps. Christopher Benjamin, Joe Casello, Dan Daley, Tracie Davis, Anna Eskamani, Michael Gottlieb, Dianne Hart, Christine Hunchofsky, Andrew Learned, Travaris McCurdy, Angie Nixon, Felicia Robinson, Kelly Skidmore, Carlos Gulliermo Smith, Alllison Tant, Geraldine Thompson, Susan Valdes, Patricia Williams and Marie Woodson.
“I have had the pleasure of working in partnership with Representative Michele Rayner to make sure Pinellas County residents have increased access to food and to advocate for justice reform, strong local governments, and the safety of our community ,” said Sen. Rouson in a statement.
“Floridians need their champions right now and Rep. Rayner has consistently worked for the people. I’m proud to endorse her for re-election to the Florida House and to continue bringing home solutions for Florida families.”
Rayner has picked up a slew of endorsements from Tampa Bay Democratic leaders since reentering the state legislative race. Most recently, Rayner reported endorsements from State Attorney Andrew Warren, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch.
“I’m grateful to see supporters of our campaign and my colleagues rally around our message as we head into this primary in August,” Rayner said in a statement.
“With our democracy on the line, Floridians facing economic challenges, and the onslaught of attacks on our fundamental rights, it is imperative that we stand in unity and stand up for the people. That is what I have always done and will continue to do in the legislature.”
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.
Newton held the HD 70 seat before Rayner. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for Mayor of St. Pete in 2021, pitting him against Welch in the Primary. 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.