State Sen. Darren Soto‘s bid to become the first Puerto Rican Floridian to be elected to Congress has won the endorsement of Puerto Rican New Yorker U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez.

Soto announced Tuesday he has won the endorsement of Democrat Velázquez, a 23-year House member from Brooklyn, in his Democratic bid for the Orlando-based Congressional District 9.

“Darren Soto is a sensible and compassionate leader,” she said in a news release issued by Soto’s campaign. “He will stand up for the rights of those who cannot stand up for themselves, and has a proven record of doing just that. I am excited to endorse Darren Soto in his first race for Congress as he makes history by being elected Florida’s first Puerto Rican Congressman.”

Soto is in a Democratic fight with Susannah Randolph, Dr. Dena Minning, Valleri Crabtree and former state Rep. Ricardo Rangel, in what is a strongly-leaning Democratic district. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando is running for U.S. Senate, rather than re-election.

The district also has a large Puerto Rican population, although it is a minority. Soto has represented much of the district as a state senator, and before that as a state representative.

“As the first Puerto Rican woman elected to Congress, she made history. I hope to follow in her footsteps by becoming Florida’s first Congressman of Puerto Rican decent,” Soto stated in the release. “Nydia and I have similar interests: fighting for the working class and preserving the environment. I plan to work together with her on these issues in Congress.”

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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