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Meet The Black Candidates Who Made History in Florida Primaries

Meet The Black Candidates Who Made History in Florida Primaries

The changing of the guard!

In Florida’s first election since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Black candidates have made historic wins. Competing against crowded ballots and voting concerns, these officials still managed to come out on top.

Harold Fernandez Pryor

The young former prosecutor who led the Broward County Black bar association won the Democratic nomination for Broward State Attorney with 21.2 percent of the votes. In November, he will run against Republican Gregg Rossman and independent Sheila Alu to replace Broward State Attorney Mike Satz, who’s not seeking re-election after 44 years in the position.

Pryor beat eight Democratic candidates to secure his nomination: attorney Joe Kimok, lawyer Jim Lewis, lawyer, and ex-Coconut Creek Mayor, Josh Rydell, prosecutor and assistant Broward state attorney Sarahnell Murphy, assistant Broward state attorney, Justin McCormack, and Miami Dade and Broward County prosecutor Teresa Fanning-Williams.

“We need a state attorney that is willing to work with various community stakeholders, willing to go to Tallahassee to advocate laws that can change our community for the better,” Pryor told Miami CBS Local. “We need a state attorney that is not absent but visible."

Pryor would be the county's first Black state attorney.

Michele Rayner

District 70 in the Florida house has a new representative in Michele Rayner, a civil rights attorney, who runs unchallenged from a Republican candidate to become the first open Black and lesbian woman elected to the Florida Legislature.

Rayner beat Keisha Bell, a St. Petersburg resident, Michelle Grimsley, former legislative aid to current House District 70 Rep. Wengay Newton, and Mark Oliver, a disability rights advocate for the position with about 30 percent of the vote, according to Tampa Bay Times. In November, she will replace Newton, who is running for Pinellas County Commission. 

 Her campaign was a fundraising powerhouse raising over $116,900, almost 3 times more than Oliver, Bell, and Grimsley. She also secured key endorsements from Equality Florida, the Florida Education Association, the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas, and U.S. Congressmen Charlie Crist.

“We’ve run a campaign focused on putting people over politics, and that’s rooted in a commitment to working with and for residents until the change they seek is a reality,” said Rayner in the news release. “This win proves that this community is ready tired of business as usual and ready for change, and I’m so grateful and humbled that the voters of District 70 have elected me to represent them in Tallahassee to move us closer to the change we all deserve.”

Shevrin Jones

The Democratic candidate for the Florida Senate faced stiff competition running on a packed ballot, including former state senator Daphne Campbell, Rep. Barbara Watson, former Rep. Cynthia Stafford, Miami Gardens Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro and retired firefighter Wilbur Harbin.

According to the Miami Herald, he appeared to be an early winner with over 27 percentage points over his closest challenger, Campbell. As the first openly Black and gay lawmaker in Florida’s legislature, his campaign faced hiccups such as a bout of COVID-19, fake Barack Obama robocalls endorsing Cambell, and smears against his sexuality from Ighodaro.

However, Jones held his own and raise more money than all the other candidates and took to major news networks like CNN, MSNBC, and local media to express his displeasure in the state’s response to the pandemic.

Jones told the Miami Herald that he doesn’t want to be boxed into labels of Black, queer or young, but for the voters to see the work he’s done in the House and will continue to do in the senate. 

“It’s a clear picture that people are tired of the divisive nature of where we are in this country, and my message to anyone in politics is that the high road always wins. It’s a glass ceiling broken,” Jones told the Herald. “Don’t allow what people say to deter you from moving forward and breaking through the finish line. Times are changing. The young people will win.”

Jones will face Darien Hill, an independent write-in opponent. If he wins, he will be the first openly gay member of the Florida Senate.

The Miami Herald also reported that Sybrina Fulton, the mother of the late Trayvon Martin, lost her campaign to represent District 1 by just 331 votes, less than 1 percent, to Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert.

You all worked hard, congratulations!