Rayner announces bid for Crist’s congressional seat

State Rep. Michele Rayner, D-St. Petersburg, launched a campaign Monday to try to succeed Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist, who is running for governor in 2022. Rayner joined a field that also includes state Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, in what is now Congressional District 13 in Pinellas County.

“I am running for Congress because I believe that is where I can do the most good for my community: the community that raised me, the community that I love,” Rayner, an attorney, said in a prepared statement. “We need representatives in Congress who understand that politics is a calling to public service, not self-service.”

Rayner was elected to the Florida House last year and noted in Monday’s announcement that she would “be one of the first openly queer Black women” in Congress if she wins next year.

“This is a critical moment both in our nation’s, and in our state’s, history,” she said in the statement. “It not only demands that all people have full access to their civil and human rights, but equally as important have access to quality public education, affordable housing, accessible health care and economic opportunity.”

In addition to Rayner and Diamond, other candidates in the race include Democrat Eric Lynn and Republican Anna Paulina Luna. The district’s boundaries --- and potentially its number --- will change before the 2022 election because of the upcoming reapportionment process.

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