St. Petersburg, FL – State Rep. Ben Diamond announced today in a video message to supporters he is suspending his campaign for Congress as a result of the new gerrymandered districts that divide Pinellas County and place his St. Petersburg home outside Congressional District 13. Diamond, widely considered the leading Democrat to succeed incumbent U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, said he will now focus his attention on fighting for fair districts that do not divide the city and that meet the requirements of the Florida Constitution.
“Our state constitution says Floridians have a right to fair districts, drawn without the intent to favor any one political party. Unfortunately, Governor DeSantis and the Legislature violated the constitution with this illegal map,” Diamond said. “I fully intend to resume my campaign when fair and legal districts are reinstated in our community. Our democracy is founded on the idea that voters should select our representatives; politicians should NOT hand-select their voters.”
The new map divides Pinellas County and St. Petersburg. In fact, St. Petersburg City Hall and Tropicana Field are now in a Tampa-based congressional district. Diamond said St. Petersburg residents lose by not having one clear voice in Washington, and all Pinellas voters lose by not having competitive districts.
“This political gerrymandering hurts our community. It creates two non-competitive districts in Pinellas and will add to the growing polarization and gridlock that so many of us are sick of seeing in Washington,” he added.
A circuit judge in Tallahassee said Wednesday he has concluded the congressional map is unconstitutional, but that ruling will be appealed by the state. Any changes for this election cycle are expected only to focus on districts in North Florida, where the gerrymandered map eliminated a district that provided Black voters an opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice.
Diamond raised more money than any Democrat in the CD 13 race, topping $1.2 million. He also racked up endorsements from U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Pinellas County Commissioners Janet C. Long and Pat Gerard, former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, former St. Petersburg City Council member Amy Foster, and St. Petersburg City Council members Gina Driscoll and Brandi Gabbard.
Diamond, 43, said he is endorsing incumbent U.S. Rep Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, in Congressional District 14 and Democrat Lindsay Cross to succeed him in Florida House District 60. He plans to help fight for fair districts and to resume his campaign for Congress when there are legally drawn districts.