ABOVE: Eunic Ortiz. Photo courtesy Ortiz.
ST. PETERSBURG | Eunic Ortiz officially became the Democratic nominee for state Senate District 18 June 20, moving one step closer to making LGBTQ history in November’s general election.
A longtime organizer and activist, Ortiz launched her campaign to represent “the community she grew up in, knows and loves.” She would represent parts of Clearwater, Gulfport, Largo, Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg.
If elected, she will also become only the second Hispanic representative in Pinellas County and the first openly lesbian state senator in Florida.
“We launched this campaign about a year ago with one thing in mind,” Ortiz says. “We need to elect leaders to our state Senate and our state House seats to do the work that needs to be done in Tallahassee for the betterment of all Floridians, not just a select few.
“We are hearing from voters across the district who are tired of seeing a state legislature and an administration that continues to push policy that has nothing to do with the vital needs of our state for our community,” she continues. “After the session we’ve just seen this has never been more apparent.”
Ortiz cites a number of state laws that went into effect July 1, backed by Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis. They include a 15-week abortion ban, which has been blocked by a circuit judge and Parental Rights in Education, more widely known as the state’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law.
Floridians “are tired of seeing them take on this cultural war, instead of addressing real issues like our environment, the expansion of equality for all people, even homeowners’ insurance or a tenant’s right to have a house and to afford their rent,” she says. “Those are the real issues we’re hearing about.”
Ortiz hopes to help solve them in Tallahassee. Her platform includes addressing affordable health care and housing, securing LGBTQ equality, fully funding public education, strengthening environmental protections, working toward criminal justice reform and protecting the right to vote for every Floridian.
More than 50 activists, elected officials and organizations believe she’s the person for the job. Ortiz has been endorsed by Shevrin Jones, Florida’s first openly gay state senator and Michele Rayner, the first Black, openly LGBTQ woman elected to the Florida Legislature.
The political arm of Florida’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization also endorsed her last December.
“We’re putting a marker down for our members and supporters early and clearly,” Equality Florida Action PAC Senior Political Director Joe Saunders said at the time. “Eunic Ortiz has a long history of fighting for all marginalized people … Having Eunic in the Florida Senate would be a game changer for LGBTQ Floridians. It is imperative we make this seat work for LGBTQ families in Pinellas.”
While Ortiz isn’t running to make history, the impact of her potential win isn’t lost on the candidate.
“It’s 2022 and we’ve never had a lesbian in the state Senate … it is bonkers,” she says. “We have people in the LGBTQ community living in every single county in the state. They are our neighbors and they are our community leaders.
“LGBTQ people are the workers that are making our counties and communities run,” she continues. “We’re everywhere, and the fact that we have not elected an openly gay woman to the state Senate only speaks to the reason why it’s so important this year. It’s 2022, our state government and every level of government has to reflect what our communities look like.”
Ortiz will face state Rep. Nick DiCeglie in the race for District 18, a Republican whose priorities include “defending conservative values.” In the Florida House he co-sponsored the state’s 15-week abortion ban and supported the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law.
Ortiz described him as her “right-wing GOP opponent” via social media:
🔊Breaking: I just became the official Dem. nominee for the Florida state senate, District 18!
We can do this. We can elect the first openly gay woman to the state senate. We can flip this seat BLUE in November. But, 1st I need your help to defeat my right-wing GOP opponent. /1 pic.twitter.com/GdasHMzDY6
— Eunic Ortiz (she/her) (@eunicortiz) June 20, 2022
“This seat could be the seat that ties the state Senate in Tallahassee,” Ortiz says. “This is a huge flip opportunity. Not just for Democrats, but for people who want state lawmakers who are going to make common sense decisions for the betterment of the people.
“In November, we will be able to start the process to fix this state’s wrongs,” she notes. “Every single election matters and we can make a difference with our vote.”
Florida’s general election is Nov. 8. Learn more about Eunic Ortiz at EunicForFlorida.com.