Pilot and retired general Mark Bircher is first Republican to file for Pinellas congressional seat
There's now a Republican in the high-profile race for the Pinellas County seat held by Rep. David Jolly.
Mark Bircher, a 62-year-old airline pilot and retired U.S. Marine Corps reserve brigadier general from Largo, filed papers this week with the Federal Elections Commission this week to run for CD 13. It's the seat that already has two Democrats: former Obama administration official Eric Lynn and former Gov. Charlie Crist. Jolly announced earlier this year that he is running for Marco Rubio's U.S. Senate seat.
If Bircher's name sounds familiar, it should. He ran for the seat in a 2014 special election held after the death of Rep. C.W. Bill Young. Bircher, a political newcomer, came in third place in a three-way race between Jolly and state Rep. Kathleen Peters. Jolly would go on to beat Democrat Alex Sink.
Bircher can safely be considered an underdog in a district that is now heavily Democratic. The Supreme Court on Wednesday approved a Congressional map that keeps most of Pinellas (including St. Petersburg, Crist's home), in District 13.
Bircher couldn't immediately be reached Tuesday. Here's a 2013 story on Bircher by the Tampa Bay Times' Adam Smith.