“I wish I hadn’t run for Senate,” Grayson told ABC affiliate WFTV reporter Christopher Heath. “If I hadn’t run for Senate, I’d be in Congress right now fighting Donald Trump tooth and nail right now. I think Donald Trump should be impeached.”
Grayson is set to face Rep. Soto, the first Florida congressman of Puerto Rican descent, in a district known as heavily Democratic. Grayson dismissed the party challenges of going up against an incumbent who has been outspoken about the community’s needs after the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria.
“I don’t need anyone’s permission to run for office. What I’ve done is ask the people,” Grayson said to WFTV. “I can run anywhere in the state.”
Responding to the news, Soto said that he did expect Grayson to go negative in the primary campaign against him, but says he'll seek to avoid that kind of race.
"We will continue our inspiring message and highlighting how we deliver for the community regardless of his presence in the race," Soto added.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) reiterated their support for Soto on Tuesday, saying he has "built a robust base of support at home in Central Florida."
"I’m confident Darren will run a winning campaign and continue to serve the good people of Florida’s 9th District, thanks to his record of supporting hurricane survivors in Florida and Puerto Rico, protecting DREAMers and all hard-working immigrants, and standing up for women’s equality in the workplace and their access to quality, affordable healthcare," DCCC Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M. wrote in a statement provided to ABC News Tuesday.
In a year where Democrats see a political landscape that may allow them to take back the majority in the U.S. House, Grayson's entry could cause headaches for the party, something Soto said Grayson could have avoided by running in a different district.
"Grayson has never considered what's wise for Democratic unity when considering his actions. He could have helped build a Democratic majority running in one of several open seats, but chose not to do so," Soto said.
In addition to a number of competitive races for U.S. House seats in Florida, the state is poised to see expensive and bruising races for one of its U.S. Senate seats and the governor's mansion in 2018.