After we reported this morning that Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice had switched from endorsing Ben Diamond in the House District 68 candidate Ben Diamond to being neutral in the race with fellow Democrat Eric Lynn, we received a call from Tom Alte, Diamond’s campaign manager, saying that Justice was still endorsing Diamond.
We went back and reviewed the statement sent to us by Justice on Thursday. In fact, Justice does that, “while Ben asked for and received my endorsement, both have my friendship and support.”
So, to get it straight – Justice endorses Diamond, and is giving his friendship and support to Lynn – and Diamond.
A number of Democrats who previously had announced their support for Diamond when he was the lone Democrat in the race, such as Charlie Crist, Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee Chair Susan McGrath, announced that they had back away from that stance once the race had become a competitive primary.
The Eric Lynn campaign had also sent SPB a statement recently that Justice had also changed his position to being neutral. Apparently they – and we – were incorrect.
. This was his Justice’s statement, sent via Facebook:
We were all surprised when Representative Dwight Dudley recently announced his intention not to seek re-election to the Florida House. I was not surprised and very pleased when our friend Ben Diamond announced his candidacy. I immediately responded yes to his endorsement request. We were then later surprised when our friend Eric Lynn announced that he was suspending his congressional campaign and that he too would seek the now open legislative seat. I have always encouraged Eric to seek the right elected office. It’s an embarrassment of riches to have two fine young men running for the same seat and I look forward to having the winner serve us well in Tallahassee. So while Ben asked for and received my endorsement, both have my friendship and support. Now if you live in District 68, you get to do something I don’t – you get to actually vote for one of these gentlemen. You have 166 days to get to know them and make the best decision for our community. Get to it.
Diamond and Lynn are running in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary. The winner will face Republican JB Bensmihen.
Justice is facing his own reelection campaign this year. The District 3 County Commissioner is running for a second four-year term against Republican Mike Mikurak this fall.