4 Pinellas County mayors back Ben Diamond for CD 13

Diamond, Ben - 5
The latest surge in support shows bipartisan appeal.

Four Pinellas County mayors are backing Rep. Ben Diamond in his bid for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

They include Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson, Safety Harbor Mayor Joe Ayoub, St. Pete Beach Mayor Al Johnson and Indian Rocks Beach Mayor Cookie Kennedy.

Diamond, who currently represents Florida House District 68 in St. Petersburg, is running to replace U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who is leaving office to run for Governor.

“We have significant needs in Gulfport and in Pinellas for improved infrastructure,” Henderson said. “Ben understands how the federal government can play a key role in making these improvements for our residents and our businesses, and I know he will represent us well in Washington.”

The CD 13 race is expected to be one of the most competitive in the nation. Crist’s departure from the seat leaves a key opening for the GOP to reclaim a seat that, before Crist’s election in 2016, had been under Republican control for decades.

Diamond faces former President Barack Obama staffer Eric Lynn and state Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby in the Democratic Primary next year. If he wins his party’s nomination, he’ll face one of three Republicans vying for the GOP nod, including Air Force veteran Anna Paulina Luna and former Lisa Murkowski adviser Amanda Makki, who both ran for the seat last year, as well as new GOP entrant Audrey Henson, a nonprofit founder.

“Ben understands the complex challenges facing our beach communities,” Kennedy said. “From climate change and red tide to traffic congestion and our need for beach renourishment, our next member of Congress must be prepared to advocate for our unique needs. I am confident that Ben will work in Washington to protect our state’s environment, improve our infrastructure, and ensure that residents can enjoy our beautiful beaches for generations to come.”

The race is likely to be an expensive one, and endorsements will help candidates seek the money they’ll need to remain competitive. CD 13, which covers parts of mid and south Pinellas County, currently has a Democratic advantage. But that could change ahead of next year’s election as state lawmakers begin the process of redrawing district boundaries.

If the new boundaries shift northward, it could encapsulate more Republican voters and diminish or erase Democrats’ advantage.

“Ben is the type of leader we need. His record in the Florida Legislature reflects his commitment to represent the interests of Pinellas County. His efforts to protect and preserve the environment, and to maintain the progress we’ve made over decades in keeping the waters in Tampa Bay clean, are critical to the success of our community,” Ayoub said.

Diamond will leave his seat in the Florida House next year whether he wins the CD 13 race or not. He left behind a leadership post to run for Congress. He was set to lead House Democrats beginning next year.

Diamond is running on a platform that includes tackling climate change and improving the environment, an issue important across party lines in Pinellas County’s robust beach communities.

“Ben has deep roots in Pinellas County, and he knows St. Pete Beach well. In Congress, I’m confident Ben will help us continue to improve and harden our infrastructure, enhance and protect our beaches and embrace economic policies that keep our tourism economy thriving,” Johnson said.

The endorsements add to an already growing list of supporters, including Pinellas County Commissioners Janet Long and Pat Gerard; St. Petersburg City Council members Amy Foster, Gina Driscoll and Brandi Gabbard; and Pinellas County School Board member Nicole Carr.

Before serving in the Florida House, Diamond worked as general counsel to former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].

One comment

  • Tom Palmer

    September 9, 2021 at 5:41 pm

    See how that plays with the establishment endorsements. Interesting politics over there. though imagine more Republicans in some of those cities.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704