Support behind Eric Lynn’s campaign for the United States House continued to grow Tuesday, when state Rep. Michele Rayner confirmed she is backing the former national security adviser in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
Rayner of St. Petersburg, who in May cancelled her own bid for CD 13 to instead run for re-election in the Statehouse, said Lynn has her “full support.”
“Eric knows Pinellas and he knows Washington, he knows what the people need and how to get the job done on day one,” she said in a statement. “With our basic human rights under attack, our communities struggling with housing and so much more at stake on the ballot, I am proud to endorse Eric because I know he’ll represent and serve the people of Pinellas well in Congress.”
Rayner joins a surging list of current and former elected officials backing Lynn, a lawyer in private life who served for eight years under former President Barack Obama as a senior adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Defense.
Others to endorse Lynn for the CD 13 seat — which U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is vacating for a shot at retaking the Governor’s Mansion — include Crist himself, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Congressmen David Trone, Jimmy Panetta and Eric Swalwell, St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch, Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard, Gulfport Deputy Mayor April Thanos, St. Petersburg City Councilor Copley Gerdens, Largo City Commissioner Jaime Robinson, Belleair Bluffs Commissioner Joe Barkley, Belleair Beach Council Member Robyn Ache, North Redington Beach Commissioner Gary Curtis, St. Pete Beach Commissioner Christopher Graus, Redington Shores Commissioner Jennie Blackburn, Gulfport Council Member Paul Ray, former U.S. Reps. Jim Davis, Peter Deutsch, Steve Israel, Ron Klein, Mel Levine, Kendrick Meeks and Robert Wexler, and former state Rep. Jennifer Webb.
Florida’s new CD 13 map, designed and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, contains Pinellas County. Prior to being reconfigured, Joe Biden won the district during the 2020 Presidential Election by 4 percentage points.
Under its new borders, the district sided with former President Donald Trump in 2020 by 7 points.
But internal polling Lynn’s campaign released this month shows a path to victory for the Democrat over Anna Paulina Luna, the presumptive frontrunner in the district’s Republican Primary.
The poll by Global Strategy Group found that while Luna enjoyed a 45% to 36% lead in support among CD 13 voters, that advantage flipped after respondents learned of Lynn’s strengths and Luna’s perceived weaknesses.
Once given the new information, pollsters reported that 52% of respondents said they could support the Democrat compared to 42% who stuck with Luna and 8% who remained undecided.
Lynn at one point was part of a competitive Democratic field including two prominent state lawmakers. But Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a controversial map that shifted CD 13 from a district where Democrat Joe Biden was supported by 51.36% of voters in 2020 to one where Republican Donald Trump led with 52.74% of the vote. That prompted both Reps. Ben Diamond and Rayner to leave the congressional field.
Luna has already landed the backing of several conservative groups including Club for Growth, and the new makeup of the district makes it a top prospect to flip red this fall.
Lynn expressed gratitude for Lynn’s support, calling his former Primary opponent “a fearless advocate in Tallahassee” who has fought against extremism while fighting for key issues, including food security.
“Michele knows like I do that Anna Paulina Luna is too extreme for the people of Pinellas,” he said. “(By) working together, we’ll make sure this district is represented by someone who shares our Pinellas values.”
Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics contributed to this report.