Eric Lynn first Florida Democrat to jump into race to replace Charlie Crist

This will be one of the most competitive congressional races in the country.
Eric Lynn is the only Democrat in the race for Congressional District 13. 

Eric Lynn is the only Democrat in the race for Congressional District 13. 

Published May 5, 2021|Updated May 5, 2021

A day after U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist announced he’s running for governor, there’s already a Democrat vying to replace him in Congress.

Eric Lynn, a national security adviser from St. Petersburg, made official on Wednesday his long-rumored plans to run for the District 13 seat.

“My view is the people of Pinellas deserve someone who understands the challenges we face in our communities and the complexities of working in congress,” Lynn told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday.

Lynn previously worked as a congressional aide and served as national security adviser to President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. He then joined the administration as an adviser to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

He said that he will lean on that experience as the United States enters the next phase of its involvement in the Middle East, after President Joe Biden announced the removal of the remaining troops in Afghanistan. Lynn, who continues to work on national security issues, said Biden was approaching this decision “the right way.”

“While its difficult to say we should withdraw all troops, President Biden is making the right decision and I agree with him,” Lynn said.

This is not the first time Lynn has made a play for this Pinellas County-based seat. He was a candidate for District 13 in 2016, where he proved a formidable fundraiser, but he eventually bowed out when Crist decided to run. He instead ran for state representative, but lost a Democratic primary to Ben Diamond, who has represented St. Petersburg in the Florida House since.

During his past run for Congress, Lynn supported a $15 minimum wage, which now enjoys widespread Democratic support but divided many candidates at the time. On one of the most contentious issues for Democrats today, health care, Lynn is so far uncommitted on how the country should proceed. Some Democrats wants to expand Medicare to all Floridians, while Biden and others think it should be available to anyone who wants it.

“Everyone deserves health care and there are multiple paths to get to everyone having health care,” Lynn said. “There are many positives to a Medicare for all, there are also many positives in a Medicare for all who want it and as the campaign goes forward we’ll do analysis on which plan is best for people of Pinellas and Florida.”

Lynn and Diamond could be headed for a rematch in 2022. Diamond is known to be considering a campaign for Congress as well. Diamond is slated to be the House minority leader in 2022, leaving a gaping hole in Tallahassee for Democrats if he runs for Crist’s seat.

And then there’s St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, who will be out of a job at the end of the year due to term limits and is keeping his future plans close to the vest.

On the Republican side, the party’s 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna has already said she intends to run for the job again. Another GOP contender in the last cycle, Amanda Makki, is weighing another campaign as well.

The wildcard is former U.S. Rep. David Jolly, who lost the seat to Crist in 2016. Jolly is looking to get back into politics as an Independent after leaving the GOP over President Donald Trump. He, too, may run for his old congressional seat, potentially setting up a three-way contest in 2022 for one of the state’s most competitive districts.

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Lynn lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and three kids.