ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — State Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, announced Thursday he is suspending his campaign for Congress due to Florida's new congressional districting map that he says would divide Pinellas County and put his St. Petersburg home outside the district he's running for.
Diamond was running for Congressional District 13, which is currently represented by U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who is running for governor.
Diamond says he is leaving the congressional race to focus "his attention on fighting for fair districts that do not divide the city and that meet the requirements of the Florida Constitution," a release stated.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
According to Diamond, the newly passed congressional map divides Pinellas County and St. Petersburg. He says the area of the city that includes St. Petersburg City Hall and Tropicana Field would now be in a Tampa-based congressional district.
“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 said in a statement.
On Wednesday, a circuit court judge indicated he would issue a preliminary injunction against the congressional map, which was proposed and approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis and drawn by his staff.
However, Judge Layne Smith's order is a narrow ruling only addressing Florida's District 5. The rest of the map is likely to face a legal challenge, but that probably won't happen until months later.
The order is expected to be formally issued as early as Thursday.