The United Farm Workers and one of its founders, legendary organizer and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, have jointly endorsed state Sen. Darren Soto‘s bid for Congress in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, his campaign announced.

For Huerta, whose activism and organizing date to her being an organizing partner of César Chávez in the 1950s and ’60s, the endorsement is a change of direction. She had earlier endorsed Soto’s Democratic primary opponent Susannah Randolph.

Now Soto, a Democrat, faces Republican nominee Wayne Liebnitzky in next Tuesday’s election to represent CD 9, which covers south Orange County, Osceola County, and eastern Polk County. The region, particularly in Polk and Osceola Counties, has a large number of migrant farm workers.

“Darren will be our champion in Congress not only for workers’ rights, but for immigrants’ rights. He has the leadership, the courage, and the vision to fight discrimination and to work beyond partisan politics to improve the lives of all Americans,” Huerta stated in a release issued by the Soto campaign.

In the news release from Soto’s campaign announcing the joint endorsement, the union praised Soto’s leadership and record of advocacy for immigrant families and his efforts to fight for immigrant rights in the Florida Legislature.

“As a state legislator, Soto has been a strong voice for the immigrant community. He worked alongside Polk County activist Daniel Barajas and the Young American DREAMers (YAD) to pass in-state tuition for DREAMers,” Arturo S. Rodriguez, president of the UFW, write in the endorsement letter. “We look forward to working with him in Congress.”

Soto sponsored an amendment which changed Florida’s law to make it possible for immigrant law school graduates to sit for the Florida Bar Exam and become licensed to practice law in the state. He has committed to fight in Congress for comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.

“It is a great honor to have earned the endorsement of the United Farm Workers, an organization whose core message is that nothing is impossible if you are courageous and work hard,” Soto said in the release. “That’s the ‘Si Se Puede’ attitude I plan to bring to 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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