Shevrin Jones has seen enough. Jones, Florida’s first gay Black Senator, jumped off the sidelines on Monday to issue an influential endorsement in the race for governor.

Heeding feedback from his constituents, Jones announced on Monday he was backing U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist.

“I couldn’t have just sat out and not done anything,” Jones said in a Zoom interview with SFGN on Monday.  “I think the time is too critical right now and I wanted to see who’s message was really resonating with Floridians and the Black community in particular.”

Jones represents the largest Black district in the state and has been repeatedly asked by voters for guidance in the governor’s race. Crist, Jones said, is gaining consensus among his constituents.

“Charlie Crist is the direction they are moving in and it’s clear that there’s a message that’s resonating that needs to be amplified,” Jones said.

Crist, who served as governor as a Republican from 2007-2011, faces Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried and Senator Annette Taddeo in the Democratic party primary election. In his career, Crist, 65, has served as a state senator, education commissioner and attorney general. He was elected to Congress in 2017, representing the St. Petersburg area 13th congressional district.

“We are thrilled to welcome Senator Jones to Team Crist,” Crist tweeted. “With his support and leadership we’re going to restore goodness and integrity back to the Sunshine State.”

Meanwhile, congressional maps remain a sore subject for Democrats. Governor Ron DeSantis called a special session to redraw the maps, which ultimately led to the elimination of two majority Black districts. Jones said he’s putting his faith in the integrity of the judicial system to strike down DeSantis’ maps.

“This is the moment that you hope the integrity of the court and not the politics of the court is what’s upheld and that the justices rule based on the letter of the law and not what’s popular at this moment,” he said.

Jones said the other option is to play the hand you’re dealt and step up the ground game, something Democrats were hesitant to do the last election cycle in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is a path that we can get out of this mess but the question becomes do Democrats have the momentum and then get the momentum of the people to begin to change the trajectory of what we’re seeing,” Jones said, adding, “I’m optimistic.”

Jones is campaigning for re-election in District 34, a Miami-Dade district covering parts of Miami, Miami Gardens, Opa-locka, Liberty City, El Portal, North Miami, North Miami Beach and Miami Beach. He said the legislative body has changed a lot since he first went to Tallahassee in 2012 — and not for the better.

“When I first got elected it was a legislature that was not just empathetic but there was a true intentionality to work together and truly do no harm to people,” Jones said. “I couldn’t imagine in 2011 in a chamber with Republicans like Don Gaetz or Mike Fasano or Tom Goodson that would have allowed policies that passed this year. They would have stopped the chamber and said, ‘What are you doing? How do you think any of this works or is not hurting people?’”

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