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Darden Rice will not run for David Jolly’s congressional seat

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

First-term St. Petersburg City Councilwoman Darden Rice has announced she will not seek Florida’s 13th Congressional District seat, now held by Republican David Jolly.

Rice, a 45-year-old Democrat, said she wants to focus her energies on local issues, such as the city’s recently adopted wage theft ordinance.

In an email to Florida Politics on Friday, Rice issued a statement:

“As I indicated, I took the necessary time while away to give the CD-13 congressional race serious consideration. I decided I will not enter the race.

“During this time of introspection, two motivations ended up dominating my thinking and led me to this decision. First, my deep-rooted love for St. Pete and the wonderful people that call it home. Second, the incredible opportunities to make our city even better.

“I would not have resigned my seat to run, but I feel better about not being distracted from my commitment to serve and my ability to focus on the efforts I have poured my heart and soul into to better our community.

“The work has just begun on the committee I created to promote clean energy and establish a climate action plan for the city. The recently passed wage theft ordinance is just one of many ways we continue to look out for working families and the honest businesses that pay their workers fairly. I am determined to see this succeed. While the battle for healthcare reform often takes a national stage, there are opportunities for local leaders to address public health issues and the rising costs of healthcare. We still have a serious job to do to address fixing poverty and improving the public schools in our city. St. Pete has a bright future and it is exciting to be a part of leading it.

“I am thankful for the kind words, encouragement and insight I have received from everyone.

“I deeply believe that if you work hard and make the most of where you are in the present, the future tends to take care of itself and will unfold as it is meant to be.”

After years of community activism, as well as two previous campaigns, Rice won in November 2013 against Carolyn Fries for St. Pete City Council District 4. It is her first elected office.

“I love my job with my city of St Pete,” she said in an earlier interview with Florida Politics. “I’ve put my heart and soul into that work.”

At this point in the race, Eric Lynn is the only declared Democratic candidate for CD 13, which covers most of Pinellas County. Lynn recently announced he will post $400,000 in fundraising for the quarter that ended June 30.

Other possible Democratic candidates include Former Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern.

Jolly won the CD 13 seat in March 2014 in a special election to replace the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, a longtime Republican. Jolly was re-elected in November 2014 without facing a viable Democratic candidate.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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