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Rick Kriseman endorses Eric Lynn

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman is endorsing Eric Lynn for Congress. In a video released Wednesday morning, Kriseman praised Lynn for valuing community.

“[St. Pete is] a place where the community values family and service is important,” Kriseman said in the video. “This is a man who cares about his community and will take that passion with him to Congress.”

The video shows Kriseman standing in a park and cuts to  footage of the Pinellas Congressional District beaches. It comes just one day after former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced he was running for the District 13 seat currently held by David Jolly.

Jolly is vacating office to run for the U.S. Senate to replace Marco Rubio.

“As a lifelong Democrat, I look forward to going to Congress,” Lynn said in the video.

The lifelong Democrat line is one voters should probably expect to hear often. Crist’s political evolution over the past five years is alrerady the source of much criticism. As Florida governor, Crist was a Republican. In 2010 he ran for the U.S. Senate as an independent. Then, in 2014, he ran for governor again as a Democrat — the party affiliation he carries today.

The political flip-flopping, in part, led to Crist’s demise in his latest failed gubernatorial bid against Rick Scott and is likely to be a key sticking point in Lynn’s campaign.

And then, according to Kriseman, there’s another weakness.

“You did go to St. Pete High and I went to Bogi,” Kriseman chided Lynn in the video.

Lynn bantered back that at least Kriseman sent his daughter to St. Pete High.

Lynn has a jump on his opponent in the campaign because he entered the race early. The progressive Democrat has raised $550,000 to date and has already started collecting endorsements. St. Pete City Council Chair Charlie Gerdes is on that list.

The video, while posted today, had to have been produced earlier. Kriseman has been in Toronto all week for a conference. Asked if the mayor would be making a statement about the Crist announcement Tuesday, his communications director, Ben Kirby, said he is “really not thinking about this right now” but he would be talking with Crist soon.

After the video was posted Wednesday morning, Kirby said he didn’t know it had been made because the office doesn’t handle Kriseman’s political endorsements.

The endorsement speaks to Kriseman’s leadership in St. Pete. Lynn is widely regarded as the progressive candidate in the Democratic primary while, especially considering he once was a Republican, Crist is pegged as the more centrist candidate.

Kriseman’s administration has been marked by a series of moves supported by those on the far left like increased minimum wage, support for same-sex marriage and increased employment opportunities for people with a criminal record.

The differentiation could be key in this congressional district now that lines have been redrawn. The district now includes South St. Pete and parts of downtown currently represented by Kathy Castor. The saturation of Democrats in those areas shifts the district away from its long-held Republican control.

It will be a long campaign for both candidates. The Democratic primary isn’t until August 30, 2016.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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