Charlie Crist endorses Rita Harris over Daisy Morales in HD 44

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is endorsing Rita Harris in House District 44, picking the challenger over an incumbent Democrat in the south-central Orange County election.

Crist’s endorsement of Harris, a longtime Orange County Democratic activist, comes as she runs against freshman incumbent Democratic state Rep. Daisy Morales.

There are no Republican or other candidates in HD 44, so the Aug. 23 Primary Election will be open to all voters. The winner between Harris and Morales will be elected.

Crist is not the first significant Democrat to have turned on Morales. The Democratic establishment is splitting on the race.

Morales won endorsement from Crist’s gubernatorial Democratic Primary Election rival, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, among other Democrats.

“Rita has been a strong champion for women’s reproductive health, her first job was with Planned Parenthood, that’s how I know she’ll fight for our values in Tallahassee. She’ll stand with me against bullies in the GOP leadership,” Crist said in a news release issued by Harris’ campaign.

The new HD 44 was carved from a western portion of Morales’ old House District 48 and the eastern portion of Democratic state Rep. Geraldine Thompson’s old House District 44. That created a district that consolidates the south-central Orange communities of Williamsburg, Meadow Woods, Hunters Creek, Southchase and Taft with the Dr. Phillips area to the west and part of Lake Nona to the east.

As with the old HD 48, the new HD 44 should be a safe district for Democrats for many years.

“This campaign has been about providing a voice to the challenges we face in Central Florida. I’m honored to receive Congressman Crist’s endorsement. Throughout his time in public service, he has consistently put people first before politics,” Harris said in the news release.

“As state Representative, I’ll work alongside him to restore women’s right to make decisions about our own bodies, repair the damage to our public education system, and address the affordability crisis Florida is facing.”

Harris’s prior Democratic endorsements have included nods from Ruth’s List Florida, Orange County Property Appraiser Amy Mercado, Orlando’s State Attorney Monique Worrell, Sen. Victor Torres of Orlando and Sen. Jason Pizzo of Miami.

Morales’ previous Democratic endorsements have included U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Kissimmee, Rep. Kristen Arrington from neighboring House District 46, Rep. Susan Valdés of Tampa, and former Reps. Bruce Antone of Orlando and Rep. John Cortes of Kissimmee.

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