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Ashley Brundage: Tampa Transgender Candidate for State House



Tampa Transgender Candidate for State House

The Florida Democratic Party proudly announced on Friday that for the first time since the state Legislature flipped red three decades ago, a Democrat is running for every state House and Senate district. Among them is Hillsborough County’s 65th House District, where Ashley Brundage seeks to make history as the first transgender person elected to serve in Tallahassee.

“While my personal life will make history, what’s truly groundbreaking is my background. I served as the DEI person for PNC Bank, overseeing diversity, equity, and inclusion for 60,000 employees as their national president,” Brundage shared on WMNF 88.5 FM radio in Tampa.

Running as a transgender woman in Florida politics in 2024 and highlighting her credentials as the “DEI candidate,” Brundage is challenging the established conservative grain.

“Florida is where DEI goes to die,” Governor Ron DeSantis wrote on X in March, responding to a report that the University of Florida was eliminating all diversity, equity, and inclusion positions. The board defines DEI as programs or policies that classify individuals based on race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and promote differential treatment.

Brundage believes her experience as vice president of DEI at PNC Bank and her work with Empowering Differences, her own business focused on diversity training, demonstrates the benefits of such programs. “Inclusion shouldn’t be scary. It’s an opportunity for us to learn and grow as people,” she said.

Brundage shared her journey of starting as a part-time bank teller at PNC Bank while homeless. “I built relationships in my community and brought people to bank at PNC. Practicing diversity, I became the number-one revenue-producing employee for three years nationwide.”

House District 65 includes South and downtown Tampa and a portion of northwest Hillsborough County. It has been held by Republican Marilyn Gonzalez Pittman since 2022. The district’s voter breakdown is 39% Republican, 31% Democratic, and 30% non-party-affiliated and other third-party voters.

Brundage sees these NPA voters as “the secret sauce to our win,” asserting that Republicans are worried because their scare tactics harm the economy. She focuses on lowering property insurance costs, protecting personal freedoms, and empowering small businesses.

Running in a state known for its anti-LGBTQ laws under Governor DeSantis, Brundage faces significant challenges. A federal judge recently struck down a Florida law banning minors from receiving gender-affirming health care, a decision DeSantis predicted would be reversed on appeal.

Brundage received a “Spirit of the Community Award” from the Florida Commission on the Status of Women two years ago. DeSantis signed a letter commending her work, though his team later claimed they were unaware of her transgender status.

Brundage will face a primary challenge from Nathan Kuipers on Aug. 20, with the winner going up against Gonzalez Pittman in the general election on Nov. 5. Reported by Florida Phoenix.

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