The Tampa-St. Petersburg area LGBT community appears splintered in its idea of representation for one of its House districts.
In House District 70, the Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County have endorsed newcomer Mark Oliver over civil rights attorney Michele Rayner.
Rayner, a Black queer woman, has the endorsement of Equality Florida. However, her occupation appears to be the issue with Stonewall leadership.
Susan McGrath, president of the Stonewall Democrats, told the Tampa Bay Times there are “plenty of qualified attorneys running for the Florida House,” adding there is “something to be said for fresh voices.”
Rayner, a native of Clearwater, is an award-winning criminal defense attorney. She is married to Bianca Goolsby.
Oliver, 28, is a former University of South Florida football player and founder of Specially Fit, a nonprofit for people with intellectual disabilities. A Black man, Oliver identifies as an LGBT ally.
In a statement, Equality Florida Founder and CEO Nadine Smith, a resident of the district, said “Michele Rayner is the clear choice for everyone who values justice, fairness and equality, especially now.”
U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist (FL-13) and Florida Representative Jennifer Webb, of the neighboring 69th district, have also endorsed Rayner.
SFGN reached out for comment to the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus but our call was not returned.