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Ben Diamond beats Eric Lynn in HD 68 race, 54%-46%

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Ben Diamond has defeated Eric Lynn in the highly competitive House District 68 Democratic race in Pinellas County. Diamond received 54 percent of the votes, Lynn 46 percent.

“I’m so humbled by this victory,” said Diamond after the final results. “I want to thank all of my volunteers, supporters, friends, and family who worked so hard to make this happen. I also want to congratulate Eric Lynn on a well-run race.”

The two men — both running for office for the first time — proved to be remarkably similar in their standard center-left ideology, though it became a bit more personal in the final week.

Diamond’s political committee, Protecting Pinellas Families, sent out a negative mailer referencing Lynn’s use of two homestead exemptions in Washington D.C. and Maryland. Lynn called the attack “disappointing.”

Meanwhile, Lynn hit at Diamond in a radio debate on the large contributions he received from the insurance industry — none greater than the $20,000 from Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Company, the same company that received a $52 million contract from the state in 2013 after giving a large campaign contribution to Rick Scott’s re-election coffers.

Observers had a hard time getting a feel for the race, and the dueling polls released in early August didn’t help — a Lynn internal survey had him up 12 percentage points, while Diamond punched back with his own survey a few hours later showing him up by nine points.

Although both men used political committees to buttress their fundraising, Lynn always dominated financially, since he’d had a year’s head start in running for Congress, and moved that money to a committee to satisfy campaign finance laws.

The District encompasses much of St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park, Lealman and Feather Sound.

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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