Rep. Ben Diamond nabbed four new endorsements Wednesday from elected officials in Dunedin, in support of his campaign for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
The endorsors include Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski, Dunedin Vice Mayor Deborah Kynes and Dunedin City Commissioners Moe Freaney and Jeff Gow.
“I first met Ben when we served together on the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Board of Directors and have closely followed his rise as a collaborative and effective leader in our community,” Ward Bujalski said in a statement. “He understands that our communities are stronger when state and federal leaders work with local governments to solve the complex challenges our residents are facing. A strong advocate for home rule, land and water conservation, and economic policies that put our community first, I know Ben will ensure our voices are heard in Washington.”
Bujalski has served three terms as Dunedin Mayor, first elected in 2014.
“As a member of the Florida House, Ben Diamond has strived to be an effective advocate, not just for his district, but for all Pinellas residents,” Kynes said in a statement. “He understands that the government closest to the people serves the people best and has consistently fought to preserve the powers of local government. As a member of Congress, I know he will work collaboratively with local leaders to build resilient infrastructure, develop innovative transportation solutions, and address the everyday challenges facing all of Pinellas County’s unique communities.”
The endorsements add to an already growing list of supporters, including former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and former state Rep. Sean Shaw.
Several Pinellas County mayors have also announced their support for Diamond, as well as Pinellas County Commissioners Janet Long and Pat Gerard; St. Pete City Council members Amy Foster, Gina Driscoll and Brandi Gabbard; and Pinellas County School Board member Nicole Carr.
Diamond, a St. Petersburg Democrat, is running to succeed U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist for the Pinellas County District.
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.
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 continue the process of redrawing district boundaries.