Florida House District 70 Elects Their First Black Queer Woman, Michele Rayner as Legislator
Updated: Aug 26, 2020
Civil rights attorney Michele Rayner won against three opponents in the Aug. 18th primary to represent Florida House District 70. She is now the first Black LGBTQ woman elected in Florida’s legislature.
According to Tampa Bay Times, Rayner won by 30% and her campaign raised just over $116,900. Furthermore, she reached her $1,000 donation limit for both the general election and the primary election with a number of LGBTQ-focused organizations that endorsed her ahead of the race. Including Equality Florida, the Human Rights Campaign and the LGBTQ Victory Fund.
Equality Florida celebrated the win after the election with Rayner and her wife who she married in 2018. Her wife, Bianca Goolsby, a former Hillsborough County educator is now an education advocate and digital strategist as stated by Tampa Bay Politics.
If anyone was to represent Florida it would be Rayner. From Florida’s Pinellas County, Michele was a popular civil rights attorney, social justice advocate and lead counsel of Civil Liberty Law. With a Bachelors in Political Science from Florida State and a Masters in International Affairs from Florida Coastal School of Law, Rayner earned her win by staying active in her hometown.
Before she opened her own law firm, Rayner served as an Assistant Public Defender and Legislative Aide. Right before becoming Florida House District 70 Legislator, she served as local counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense fund.
She is also well known for working with attorney Benjamin Crump to represent the family of Markeis McGlockton, a 28-year-old unarmed Black man who was shot and killed in 2018 at a Clearwater convenience store parking lot.
Ahead of the election, Rayner reflected on her historic bid in a viewpoint column for Watermark.
“We need leaders who will act to keep all of us safe, but especially those experiencing the most harm. Residents deserve a leader who will fight for everyone’s full humanity to be seen and respected…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.”
The 10 minute historical election was recorded live on Facebook. Rayner took it to Twitter to express her gratitude moments after her big win. She has successfully replaced Wengay Newton, who is now running for Pinellas County Commission, according to Florida Politics.
Now that Rayner is elected as Legislator she says her first move will be to partner with Newton as she prepares to enter the state legislature. At the very top of her mind is to find answers for the coronavirus pandemic.
Check Out Michele for Florida Virtual Election Night Watch Party