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Kathy Castor is backing Ben Diamond over Eric Lynn in HD 68 race

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Tampa Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor is endorsing St. Petersburg-based attorney Ben Diamond in the campaign for the open House District 68 seat.

“Ben is a strong leader on issues that matter to us in Tampa Bay,” Castor said in a statement released by the Diamond campaign on Thursday. “Ben’s work on the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative in 2014 shows he will be a good partner to work with in preserving our unique and beautiful Florida environment which in turn has such a great impact on the growth of jobs and our economy. I am confident he will make a great legislator and partner as we work on behalf of our friends and neighbors across our community.”

“Congresswoman Kathy Castor is an outstanding and hard-working leader in our community, and I am so honored to have her support,” said Diamond. “We need leaders in Tallahassee that will stand up to special interests and fight for our families and small businesses. I’m humbled that Congresswoman Castor is supporting our campaign to fight for what’s right for Pinellas families in Tallahassee.”

Diamond served as an attorney under Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and rose to serve as General Counsel to the Chief Financial Officer and Florida Department of Financial Services. He entered the race earlier this month, on the same day that Democratic incumbent Dwight Dudley announced he would not run for reelection.

Eric Lynn, a Former Defense Dept. adviser in the Obama administration, is the other Democrat in the race. Lynn dropped out of his race for congress vs. Charlie Crist to take on Diamond in the Pinellas County based HD 68 seat.

Castor joins former Senator and Governor Bob Graham and many local St. Pete and Pinellas Democrats in backing Diamond in the intra-party battle. The Diamond campaign notes that includes Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice. However, a recent statement issued from the Lynn campaign said that Justice is now neutral in the race (SPB has reached out to Justice for clarity).

The winner of the Diamond-Lynn battle on Aug. 30 will go on to face Republican JB Bensmihen in November.

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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