Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, is wading into the crowded Democratic primary to replace outgoing Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, endorsing State Rep. David Richardson.
Soto is the first sitting member of Congress to make an endorsement into the race. He's also the first Puerto Rican member of Congress from Florida and a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
"David Richardson is a fighter for the progressive cause. During his years as a State Legislator he fought for social rights and civil liberties for DACA recipients, LGBTQ Americans, and incarcerated Floridians," Soto said in a statement. "His campaign for Congress has continued this trend with his support for Medicare-for-All, his calls for immediate aid to Puerto Rico, and his demands for gun reform nationwide. As such, I am proud to endorse his campaign for Congress, and look forward to serving with a progressive voice like David's in Washington, D.C."
The Democratic primary also includes includes former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, Miami Beach commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, former Knight Foundation director Matt Haggman and former judge Mary Barzee Flores.
Shalala and Richardson have over $1 million to spend on the race after the latest fundraising quarter, though both have loaned money from themselves to their campaigns. Soto and Richardson served together in the Florida Legislature.
"I’m deeply honored to receive the support of Congressman Darren Soto," Richardson said in a statement. "Darren since his days as a State Legislature has become a national leader on progressive issues and has fought tirelessly for the people of Florida. I’m happy to have his support as we approach the Democratic primary election on August 28th."
National Democrats groups have largely stayed out of the primary for Ros-Lehtinen's seat and whoever wins the primary will be favored to flip the seat in November, though the Democratic Party lacks a Hispanic candidate in a majority-Hispanic district after state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez dropped out of the race last week.