Kathy Castor endorses Michele Rayner ahead of HD 62 Primary

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Rayner has earned endorsements from a slew of fellow Democratic legislators.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is backing state Rep. Michele Rayner as she approaches the Democratic Primary against former state Rep. Wengay Newton.

Castor, who became the first woman to represent Hillsborough and Pinellas counties in Congress upon her initial election in 2006, is a well-known Democratic leader in Tampa Bay. She is also running for re-election this election cycle.

“I am proud to endorse Rep. Michele Rayner and support her re-election to the Florida House of Representatives,” Castor said in a statement. “As Tampa Bay’s Congresswoman, having reliable, committed, and principled partners like Rep. Rayner in the Florida Legislature is imperative as we tackle housing affordability, employment stability, quality health care and equal rights for our neighbors.”

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 Newton in the Primary.

Rayner has earned endorsements from a slew of fellow Democratic legislators, including Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book. Rayner has also seen endorsements from State Attorney Andrew Warren, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch.

In shifting her campaign from Congress to the state House, she brought with her a hefty war chest, giving her a strong advantage against Newton, who has struggled to compete with her fundraising. So far, Rayner has collected $195,504 between her campaign and affiliated committee, Progress for All. Newton, on the other hand, has amassed $35,940 total.

Newton held the HD 70 seat before Rayner. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for St. Pete Mayorin 2021, pitting him against Welch in the Primary.

A third candidate, Jesse Philippe, is also racing for the Democratic nomination.

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.

Rayner has earned endorsements from a slew of fellow Democratic legislators, including Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book. Rayner has also seen endorsements from State Attorney Andrew Warren, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch.

In shifting her campaign from Congress to the state House, she brought with her a hefty war chest, giving her a strong advantage against Newton, who has struggled to compete with her fundraising. So far, Rayner has collected $195,504 between her campaign and affiliated committee, Progress for All. Newton, on the other hand, has amassed $35,940 total.

Newton held the HD 70 seat before Rayner. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for St. Pete Mayor in 2021, pitting him against Welch in the Primary.

A third candidate, Jesse Philippe, is also racing for the Democratic nomination.

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.

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