Democrats pull back endorsements in state House race
Democratic party leaders had hoped to avoid an expensive and potentially bruising state House primary after Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, announced he would not run again. A bunch of prominent Democrats immediately endorsed St. Petersburg lawyer Ben Diamond, once an aide to former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, hoping to send a signal to other Democrats they should stay out.
But that did not discourage former Defense Department official Eric Lynn from pulling the plug on his congressional campaign against Charlie Crist and jumping into a primary against Diamond. Now Diamond is losing some endorsements from party leaders saying they have to be neutral. That includes Pinellas Democratic Chairwoman Susan McGrath and state Rep. Janet Cruz of Tampa, the House Democratic leader.
“Our family has known Ben Diamond since he was in high school and consider him to be one the brightest rising stars on our Democratic bench. I gladly endorsed Ben when he was the only Democrat in the race,” said Cruz. “However, now that Eric Lynn has filed to run against Ben in this Democratic primary, I will remain neutral and be prepared to support the victor in the general election. The fact that Eric and Ben are running in the same primary just goes to show the depth of Florida’s Democratic bench when it comes to exciting, young leaders for the future ahead.”
State Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant, however, said through a spokesman that her endorsement of Diamond stands, though the party will be officially neutral.