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Young Democrats Challenge Rep. Lawson For Congressional Seat

Rontel Batie via facebook

Two young Democrats are challenging North Florida Congressman Al Lawson for his District 5 seat, which covers portions of the eastern Panhandle from Tallahassee to Jacksonville.

The 69 year-old Democrat Al Lawson is serving his first term in Congress, following his time a state senator. Now 29 year-old Rontel Batie of St. Augustine is trying to unseat him.

Batie has worked as a lobbyist and a congressional aide to former Representative Corrine Brown, who was recently indicted on federal charges. Raised by a single mother, Batie detailed his rise out of poverty in a recent campaign video.

“I worked as a janitor, as a dishwasher, as a store clerk, as a landscaper, cutting grass 11 hours a day in 100 degree Florida heat. So as you consider me to be your next member of Congress, consider that I am not coming from a place of privilege or entitlement. I am doing this because I want to serve,” Batie said.

Batie says he wants to give a stronger voice to young Floridians.

“Statistics say that young black men who grow up poor, who grow up without fathers, and who grow up in rough neighborhoods like myself, won’t amount to much in this country. I am living proof that this is simply not true,” Batie said.

Batie has not officially filed paperwork yet, although he is building a social media presence.

Also jumping into the race is 33 year-old Shanton Edwards of Greenville, who helps run a local Boys and Girls Club. 

As a Tallahassee native, Kate Payne grew up listening to WFSU. She loves being part of a station that had such an impact on her. Kate is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. With a background in documentary and narrative filmmaking, Kate has a broad range of multimedia experience. When she’s not working, you can find her rock climbing, cooking or hanging out with her cat.