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Dwight Dudley’s spouse backing Ben Diamond in HD 68 race

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

With Democratic state representative Dwight Dudley now running for a judgeship in Pinellas County, the House District 68 member can’t endorse anyone in the race to succeed him this fall.

His wife can, obviously, and so on Tuesday, Mary Rachel Dudley, Dudley’s longtime spouse, announced that she was backing St. Petersburg attorney Ben Diamond in the contest.

“He is the best candidate to carry on my husband’s legacy of fighting for the people of Pinellas County and for families just like ours,” she said in a statement issued out by the Diamond campaign.“Ben understands not only the issues we’re facing in District 68, but because he’s worked in Tallahassee before, he understands issues facing the entire state. He has the experience, the kindness, the knowledge, and the character it takes to get things done in Tallahassee. I most definitely want Ben Diamond as my representative in the Florida House.”

Diamond currently works as an attorney with the law firm of Williamson, Diamond and Canon. Before that he worked for four years as a lawyer for the State of Florida in Tallahassee, serving as General Counsel to the Chief Financial Officer of the State of Florida and the Florida Department of Financial Services.

He’s running in a contested Democratic primary against Eric Lynn, a former Defense Department adviser for Barack Obama from 2009-2014. Both men entered the contest within the past six weeks, after Dudley made the surprise announcement that he wouldn’t run for reelection back to Tallahassee, instead saying he preferred to continue in public service closer to home.

Ms. Dudley has been a successful television and film actress for over 25 years.

“I am so humbled by Mary Rachel’s endorsement of my campaign to follow in her husband’s footsteps,” said Diamond in statement. “Mary Rachel is such an important leader in our community, and I’m so honored to have her support.”

Dwight Dudley is running against Judge Myriam Irizarry in Pinellas County’s Group 9 later this year. Irizarry was appointed to her position last July by Gov. Rick Scott to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Walt Fullerton.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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