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Darden Rice says Eric Lynn’s strong fundraising isn’t why she vetoed CD 13 run

Less than two weeks after saying she was considering entering the Democratic primary for Congressional District 13, Darden Rice has chosen to remain in her St. Petersburg City Council seat, and will not enter the contest after all.

In a statement Friday morning, Rice wrote that after taking the time to consider running, she decided not to run because of two main considerations:

“First, my deep-seated love for St. Pete and the wonderful people that call it home. Second, the incredible opportunities to make our city even better.”

This past weekend, Eric Lynn, the only declared Democrat in the race to oppose GOP incumbent David Jolly next year, stunned local observers with news that he had raised more than $400,000 in his first three months as a candidate.

Rice, though, tells Florida Politics that’s not why she decided to opt out of running for higher office.

“Lynn’s $ numbers did not keep me out,” she wrote in a text message. “I have name recognition and a proven ability to raise money.”

She also said an upcoming decision by the Florida Supreme Court regarding a legal challenge to the Legislature’s redistricting maps played no part in her decision.

If the high court rules the Legislature must draw a third redistricting map with more significant adjustments from fallout of the Fair Districts constitutional amendment, it could affect the CD 13 seat. The district encompasses much of Pinellas County, with only parts of St. Peteresburg included. A redrawn of CD 13 encompassing more of the city could prove more favorable to a Democratic candidate in 2016.

Former Tampa City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern has said she’ll enter the contest, but has yet to move to the district. She didn’t respond to a message for comment Friday morning.

In her statement, Rice said she would have not resigned from her District 4 council seat to run for Congress, but that, “I feel better about not being distracted from my commitment to serve and my ability to focus on the efforts I have poured my heart and soul into to better our community.”

(Correction: An earlier version of this story listed St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor as having endorsed Lynn. That information was taken from a Lynn fundraising announcement from this year, with both having been listed as hosts. Ben Kirby, Kriseman’s spokesman, has told Florida Politics that in fact the mayor has not endorsed anyone in the race. We’re currently checking with Castor’s team on whether she has endorsed or not).

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was 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 and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at

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