PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – State Rep. Michele Rayner, D-St. Petersburg, gave up her bid for Congress on Monday and will seek a second term in the Florida House. Rayner, an attorney, blamed new congressional district lines that Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed through the Legislature last month for her decision to exit the race for an open seat in Congressional District 13.
“Due to the farce of a redistricting process that took place during this last legislative session, overtly gerrymandered and racially exclusionary maps were passed to benefit Governor DeSantis’ political and partisan agenda,” Rayner said in a prepared statement.
Voting-rights groups and other plaintiffs have challenged the redistricting plan in state and federal courts. Rayner will run this year in the redrawn state House District 62 in southern Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Rayner’s decision followed Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, suspending his campaign for the Congressional District 13 seat last week. Diamond also pointed to the new district lines. The moves by Rayner and Diamond leave Christian Hotchkiss and Eric Lynn, a former Obama administration official, in the Aug. 23 Democratic primary in District 13.
Among Republicans running for the seat are Anna Paulina Luna, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2020 and last September drew an endorsement from former President Donald Trump. Also running on the Republican ticket is Clearwater resident and Attorney Kevin Hayslett.