Clearwater Civil Rights Attorney Michele Rayner Wins House District 70 Race
Democrat Michele Rayner has won a Florida House seat that represents parts of four Tampa Bay area counties. No Republicans entered the race for District 70, so Rayner - a Clearwater civil rights attorney - won't have to run again in November.
Rayner replaces Democrat Wengay Newton, who stepped down after two terms in the Florida House to run - unsuccessfully - for a seat on the Pinellas County Commission. Newton lost Tuesday to Pinellas County School Board member Rene Flowers.
Newton had endorsed his legislative aide Michelle Grimsley, but in the end, Rayner bested Grimsley, as well as attorney Keisha Bell, and Mark Oliver, the founder of a nonprofit that helps the disabled.
District 70 is a majority minority district - it's 60% Black and Hispanic - and includes parts of Manatee, Sarasota, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Rayner is the first woman and LGBTQ person to represent the district.
She is also known for working with attorney Benjamin Crump to represent the family of Markeis McGlockton, a 28-year-old unarmed Black man who was shot and killed in 2018 in a Clearwater convenience store parking lot.
Rayner was endorsed by Equality Florida, the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, and U.S. Congressmen Charlie Crist.