Democratic State Sen. Darren Soto officially launched his bid for Florida’s 9th Congressional District at an event Thursday night in downtown Orlando.

“Everybody here is a leader in our community. We know what’s at stake,” he told the audience made up of friends and supporters. “We have a Congress that is dysfunctional. We need people that are willing to work together.

“To not only hold strong to the Democratic values I hold dear, but to reach across the aisle.”

He continued by voicing a commitment to equality, veterans, and the middle class.

“Together, we can make this happen. Together we will all win.”

Soto is running to replace incumbent Alan Grayson who is running for the U.S. Senate seat opened by Marco Rubio‘s run for president. He will face former Congressional District Director Susannah Randolph, biochemist Dr. Dena Minning (who is Grayson’s girlfriend), and Valleri Crabtree in the stacked Democratic primary.

On the Republican side is Wayne Liebnitzsky who recently filed. Kissimmee Vice Mayor Wanda Rentas is expected to formally announce her candidacy soon, and State Rep. Mike LaRosa has also expressed interest in the seat.

The 9th District consists of parts of Orange, Osceola, and Polk counties, and is considered a safe Democratic seat in a presidential election year.

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