State Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, suspended his congressional campaign Thursday, saying he will instead seek to help a legal fight against a new congressional redistricting plan. Diamond planned to run in Congressional District 13, which will be an open seat in the November elections because U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., is running for governor. Diamond, an attorney, entered the race in May 2021. Almost exactly a year later, Diamond released a video Thursday announcing he would put his campaign on hold. Diamond said he made the decision in response to the redistricting plan, which Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed through the Legislature last month during a special session. “This map divides our city and our community. It weakens our voice in Congress, and adds to the growing polarization and gridlock that so many of us are so sick of in Washington,” Diamond said. Diamond was set to face state Rep. Michele Rayner, D-St. Petersburg, and Eric Lynn, a former Obama administration official, in the Aug. 23 Democratic primary in District 13. Diamond said he will re-enter the race if the new congressional map is struck down in court. “So, today, I am announcing my plan to suspend my campaign for Congress, and turn my attention to doing everything I can as a lawyer to help fight this illegal gerrymandering and win the battle for fair districts. Once the courts restore a fair and legal district here in Pinellas, I fully intend to resume my campaign to represent us in Washington,” Diamond said. Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith on Wednesday sided with voting-rights groups and said he would grant a temporary injunction against the map based on a constitutional challenge to a revamped North Florida district. The state will quickly appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal, which would trigger a stay of Smith’s ruling. Also, a challenge to the redistricting plan is pending in federal court.

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