(Updated) St. Petersburg-based attorney Ben Diamond announced his candidacy for the House District 68 seat in Pinellas County on Monday, April 25. In the six days leading up to the campaign’s first fundraising deadline on April 30, he was able to raise an impressive $28,366.
“I’m running for the Florida House because I want to fight for Pinellas County families,” said Diamond on Tuesday. “I’m so thankful to have so many people reach out to join our team and pledge their support so that we win here.”
Diamond timed his announcement to run for the seat just hours after Democratic incumbent Dwight Dudley announced he would not be running for re-election to the seat in 2016. Accompanying Diamond’s statement declaring his candidacy was a bevy of high-profile names endorsing him, including
Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant, House Democratic Leader-Designate Janet Cruz, former Senator and Governor Bob Graham, former CFO Alex Sink, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg Councilmembers Jim Kennedy, Karl Nurse and Darden Rice, and Pinellas County Commissioners Janet Long, and Ken Welch.
But that was before Eric Lynn, a Defense Department adviser in the Obama White House, announced that he too, would run for the open seat (on Tuesday, Craig Sher from the Lynn campaign wrote to inform FloridaPolitics.com that “many of the endorsements listed in your piece have withdrawn their endorsement of Ben Diamond and committed to neutrality in this race: Florida and Pinellas Democratic Party leaders; County Commissioners Charlie Justice and Pat Gerard; and Charlie Crist.”)
Lynn has hustled around the county over the past year to Pinellas Democrats in his run for the Congressional District 13 seat being vacated by David Jolly. However, with Charlie Crist’s entry into the race last fall, Lynn’s chances appeared remote for success, thus his recent announcement that he would run for the House District 68 seat.
“Fundraising continues to be strong for Eric Lynn since he announced his campaign for State Representative, and that’s on top of the over $600,000 cash on hand from before,” said Craig Sher, speaking for the Lynn campaign. “We picked up right where we left off.”
In his statement, Diamond said he was focused on moving forward to combine his team for the months ahead.
“The first few days of a campaign are about planning for the road ahead and building our team,” Diamond added. “We have a strategy already in motion involving dozens of local leaders, activists, elected officials, and Democratic supporters all working to spread our message. I’m truly humbled by the overwhelming support.”
The Democratic primary is set for Aug. 30. Joseph Bensmihen is running on the Republican side.