In an increasingly competitive race for an open Florida Senate seat, a sitting state legislator is attempting to tip the scale.
Florida Representative David Richardson has announced that he is recommending and voting for Jason Pizzo in the Democratic primary election for Senate district 38.
“I’m impressed with Jason Pizzo’s 'boots on the ground' work ethic and his strong commitment to ethical behavior,” said Richardson, in a news release. “He supports democratic values, including equal rights for everyone. Mr. Pizzo is my choice to serve our community.”
Richardson represents district 113 in the Florida House. The district includes Miami Beach, North Bay Village, downtown Miami and Little Havana and overlaps with Senate district 38, giving Richardson “a keen interest in the outcome of this election.”
Richardson said he rarely endorses candidates and, on paper at least, has his own campaign to wage. Richardson, 59, a certified public accountant, faces Rey Valdes in the Democratic primary.
First elected to the Florida House in 2012, Richardson is the state’s lone openly gay legislator and while he acknowledges the need for more authentic representation in Tallahassee, simply voting for a candidate because of their sexual orientation, Richardson said, is wrong.
“The LGBT community has been fighting against identity politics for many years,” Richardson said. “It is wrong for anyone to be excluded from any opportunity simply based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. I believe the LGBT community must respect the same when it comes to support for those outside the community. I will never support a candidate simply based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, because it should have no hearing on their ability to get elected or serve in public office.”
Pizzo, 40, a former prosecutor, is one of six Democrats vying for the nomination. Two of the six are gay – former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora and former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns.
Gongora has been endorsed by Equality Florida and the Miami Herald. An attorney, Gongora has also collected the most contributions of all candidates.
Richardson, however, believes Pizzo is the right person to send to Tallahassee.
“He is someone I can work with to achieve the results we need for our community,” Richardson said.
Pizzo has also been endorsed by SAVE, a South Florida LGBT organization. Both SAVE and Richardson contend Pizzo is best positioned to defeat sitting Representative Daphne Campbell for the Democratic nomination.
“During her tenure as a state representative, Daphne Campbell has not supported democratic values,” Richardson said. “She has opposed legislation that would provide anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community.”