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Democrat Eric Lynn likely to challenge David Jolly next year in CD 13 race (updated)

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Eric Lynn, a senior Obama administration adviser in the Defense Department, is strongly considering a run for the Democratic nomination for Congress against GOP incumbent in District 13 David Jolly next year, and could announce his candidacy soon. Lynn has roots in Pinellas, having graduated from St. Pete High School in 1996, and his family resides in the area (UPDATE: A spokesman for Lynn told Florida Politics on Tuesday afternoon that though Lynn is considering a run, he has absolutely not made up his mind at this time).

“Eric Lynn is being heavily recruited by local, statewide and national Democrats,” says Pinellas County Democratic Party consultant Nick Janovsky, who worked on Alex Sink’s 2014 congressional campaign.

“I believe he is most in line with Pinellas voters, and if there’s a strong calling for him, he has to consider this heavily,” Janovsky adds.

“Pinellas Democrats and Independents are excited by the possibility of a candidate that understands their concerns,” says Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee chair Susan McGrath. “Eric has vast military intelligence having worked at the Pentagon. We would be excited by the potential should he and his family decide he run.”

There was a similar calling for Lynn a little less than a year ago by Democrats, as they ended up going into panic mode after Alex Sink opted not to run for the second time in eight months against Jolly in CD13.

Lynn considered entering the race at the time, but then announced last May that after much consideration, he would remain in Washington at the Department of Defense.

He was one of a number of Democrats who chose not to challenge Jolly in the fall, in what ended up as a colossal embarrassment for Democrats in Pinellas County and in Washington, D.C.

After Lynn and other Democrats declined the opportunity to compete, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ended up selecting little known Ed Jany to be their nominee — but he dropped out shortly after entering the contest, leaving the Democrats with no candidate to oppose Jolly in what is considered to be one of the most competitive congressional districts in the nation.

Not every Democrat in Pinellas thinks a Lynn candidacy is a home-run.

Political consultant Gregory Wilson calls Lynn “an intelligent man,” but says that Jolly will be tough to beat. “He’s running against somebody who is proving to be everywhere and voting pretty well from a Democratic standpoint, and will have unlimted resources to defend his position.”

But national Democrats look ready for another battle.

“Since arriving in Washington, Congressman Jolly has proven he’s more than willing to contribute to the Republican dysfunction,” said Matt Thornton, head of communications with the DCCC. “Given Congressman Jolly’s history of trying to deceive Florida voters about his background as a lobbyist — as well as his willingness to risk Social Security in the stock market — it’s no surprise Democrats are already lining up to challenge him.”

Sarah Bascom, campaign spokeswoman for Jolly, offered this on the matter of Lynn’s prospective bid: “Running for office is a difficult decision and the Congressman wishes Eric and his family the very best.”

After leaving St. Pete High in 1996, Lynn went on to Northwestern University, where he acquired a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. He ended up getting his law degree at Georgetown University Law Center.

Lynn was a former staffer for South Florida Democratic Congressman Peter Deutch. He worked as a staffer on Jewish affairs for the Obama campaign in 2008, and has worked in the Department of Defense since 2009.

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

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