State Rep. Michele Rayner launches bid for Congress, running for Crist's House seat

Another Democrat is tossing their hat in the ring for the District 13 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.   

Civil rights attorney and state lawmaker Michele Rayner announced her candidacy Monday morning in Largo with little fanfare, surrounded by a small group of family and supporters at her family’s church. 

"We need bold people-powered and people-focused leadership. We need to protect our democracy and ensure the people, not Michele, not the rich and the corporations but the people get what they deserve," she told supporters. 

Rayner was elected to the Florida House in 2020. If she won this race, she would be one of the first openly LGBTQ women of color to serve in Congress.   

She is perhaps best known for legally representing the family of Markeis McGlockton, a Black man who was gunned down while in a parking lot of a convenience store in Clearwater. The case fired up the debate over Florida’s stand-your-ground law.   

USF political scientist Dr. Ed Benton explains Rayner is the most progressive of the three Democrats vying for the seat being vacated by Rep. Charlie Crist who is running for governor again. She enters the race following state lawmaker Ben Diamond and former Obama adviser Eric Lynn.  

"That is the biggest thing right now is getting attention to separate herself from a large field of candidates to win the primary," Benton told FOX 13.  

On the Republican side is Anna Paulina Luna, who is fresh in the minds of voters after almost beating Crist for the same seat in 2020.

More candidates are expected to enter the contest -- and their work is cut out for them in a race that is critical for Democrats to maintain their power in the House.