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Democrat Eric Lynn is running against David Jolly in 2016

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Eric Lynn, a senior Obama administration adviser in the Defense Department, has declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Congress in Florida District 13 next year. That’s the seat currently occupied by Republican incumbent David Jolly, who was initially elected last spring in a special election to succeed the late Bill Young.

“I’m running for Congress to fight for good-paying jobs and the pathways to bring them about — currently blocked by politics and politics alone,” Lynn told Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

As Florida Politics reported three weeks ago, Lynn was strongly considering a run. After our story first ran, we heard back from someone close to Lynn that he had not officially decided to enter the contest, as he was still conferring with his family about it. But obviously they’ve given him the green light to pursue his dream.

Lynn, 36, graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 1996. He then went on to attend Northwestern University, where he acquired a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. He ended up getting his law degree at Georgetown University Law Center.

He’s a former staffer for South Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Peter Deutch. He then was a staffer on Jewish affairs for the Obama campaign in 2008, and has worked in the Department of Defense since 2009.

Lynn considered a run against Jolly last year, as the Democrats were desperately looking for a candidate to challenge him after the Republican defeated Alex Sink in March of 2014 in the special election. He ultimately opted not to run. After the Rev. Manual Sykes was told off by the Pinellas Democratic Party chair that he’d be “persona non grata” if he ran due to some personal issues, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reached out at the last moment for an unknown candidate named Ed Jany, whose entire time as a candidate lasted less than two weeks.

That gave Jolly a free ride to election last November without any Democrat challenging him.

“I watched and listened to the 2014 congressional races and Republicans like David Jolly ran on the message of improving the economy and jobs,” Lynn told reporters. “But unfortunately once they won and began to govern the first three things that they wanted to vote on was restricting a woman’s right to choose, trying to defund the Department of Homeland Security, which protects U.S. citizens and Floridians against terrorism, and trying to repeal Obamacare for the 60th time. That’s not working for the economy and jobs for the people of Pinellas County.”

Jolly will be tough to beat, but Alex Sink only lost by two percentage points. While she was a known quantity, Lynn is a wild-card at this point. He’s little known, and nobody knows how he’ll fare in the glare of his first electoral contest.

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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