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Mark Bircher becomes the first Republican to enter CD 13 contest

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Mark Bircher has filed paperwork to run for the 13th Congressional District seat in 2016, becoming the first Republican to do so. He’s the retired Marine Corps Reserve brigadier general who finished third in the district’s Republican primary in early 2014 to succeed the late Bill Young.

The 62-year-old Seminole resident and commercial airline pilot had never run for political office until he entered the special primary election in late 2013. He lost to David Jolly with about 25 percent of the vote. State Rep. Kathleen Peters finished in second place.

If the odds were formidable against Bircher last year, the challenge will grow after Wednesday’s Florida Supreme Court decision validating new district lines that make it a much more Democratic-friendly seat. That was a major factor for Jolly’s decision this year to skip a re-election bid to instread run for U.S. Senate.

Bircher’s politics are very conservative. He’s passionate to reduce federal spending.

“The states created the federal government for one purpose: to serve the interest of the states,” he said in 2013. “Printing money, common defense, foreign policy, and the post office.”

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker has been said to be considering running for the seat on the Republican side. He’s expected to decide by next month.

Any Republican who comes out of the Aug. 30 primary likely will be considered an underdog in the race, based on how much more Democratic-leaning the district is expected be with the new CD 13 map.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist and Eric Lynn, a former adviser in the Pentagon for President Barack Obama, have already declared their candidacies for the Democratic nomination.

Attempts to speak with Bircher on Wednesday were unsuccessful. An official close to him told FloridaPolitics.com that he’s out of town, to return next week.

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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