Orlando state Sen. and congressional candidate Darren Soto sent an email to supporters Friday morning to remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and announce an endorsement from an Osceola County firefighter’s union.

“Our nation owes a huge debt to the police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders that answered the call of duty 14 years ago today,” Soto wrote in his message. “They ran straight into the scene at Ground Zero and rescued thousands. Many lost their lives, and many more have developed serious diseases as a result of the toxic dust they inhaled.”

He then calls on Washington lawmakers to take care of those first-response workers, citing legislation he says Republicans blocked at every turn that would aid those rescuers who have developed health complications since the attack. Soto also talks of his work in the Florida Legislature, where he led a fight to pass the “John Curry Firefighter Death Benefit Act” to provide benefits to the families of firefighters who have died during training exercises.

Toward the end of his message, he mentions an endorsement from the Osceola Fire Fighters union (Local 3284).

Soto is running for Florida’s 9th Congressional District, now open after incumbent Alan Grayson launched his run for the U.S. Senate. He faces tough Democratic primary opposition from Grayson’s former District Director Susannah Randolph, biochemist Dr. Dena Minning, former State Rep. Ricardo Rangel, and Valleri Crabtree.

Wayne Liebnitzsky has filed to run on the Republican side.

The 9th District leans Democratic and consists of parts of Orange, Osceola, and Polk counties.

“With your support,” Soto concludes, “we can take this fight to Congress to support our first responders and give them the tools they need to keep us safe.”

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