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This Week in Politics: Crist picks his running mate, resigns from Congress. A deeper dive into the role of Lt. Governor in Florida

We're wrapping up all the political happenings from the Tampa Bay area this past week.

FLORIDA, USA — This week in politics…Charlie Crist is now former Congressman Charlie Crist, resigning from his U.S. House seat this week as his campaign for Florida governor ramps up.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege,” Crist said in a statement.

The former governor’s resignation from Congress came just days after he selected his running mate. At an event in Hialeah, Crist formally tapped Karla Hernandez-Mats, president of the United Teachers Union of Dade as the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor.

Democrats lauded the pick of Hernandez-Mats, a former teacher of the year, but Republicans were quick to criticize, as Hernandez-Mats advocated delaying students' return to school in the fall of 2020 and continuing mask mandates in 2021, in defiance of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration.

The Pinellas/Miami-Dade top-of-the-ticket connection is seen on both sides. Incumbent GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis grew up in Dunedin and Lt. Governor Jeanette Nunez is a former state representative from Miami-Dade.

RELATED: Charlie Crist selects Karla Hernandez-Mats as running mate

The Deeper DiveSince a 1968 state law change, Florida Gubernatorial candidates have run alongside a lieutenant governor candidate from their party. 

Lt. governors are first in the line of succession and will fill the role of governor in the case of a health issue or hypothetically speaking, the governor decides to seek another office. It's an important role, only a "heartbeat away" from the governorship, but other than that they have no real legal duties per Florida law. What they do and how big their role is, is largely up to the governor to decide.

The last time a Lt. Governor took over duties full-time was in 1998 when Governor Lawton Chiles suffered a heart attack and died in office. Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay was sworn in to serve the remaining few weeks of his term. 

Speaking of Governor Ron DeSantis, he was closer to home, in Lakeland this week alongside Attorney General Ashley Moody. DeSantis announced the state is suing the FDA, accusing them of stalling the state’s plan to import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada.

RELATED: Florida sues FDA for information over proposal to import cheaper drugs from Canada

Crist’s congressional replacement will be decided in November and there could be a debate before then.

13th Congressional District Democratic nominee Eric Lynn, a former Obama administration official is challenging Republican nominee Anna Paulina Luna, a Trump-endorsed veteran to three debates ahead of the midterms.

"The people deserve to know exactly where we stand on every issue that matter to the great citizens of this community,” Lynn said in a press conference Thursday.

Republicans are hoping to flip the 13th District, and the outlook is favorable for them after redistricting. Lynn says Luna has not yet responded to his request.

RELATED: Rep. Charlie Crist resigns from Congress early to focus on race for governor

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