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Alex Sink won’t run again for Florida U.S. House seat
Sink’s decision to bow out of the 13th District race leaves Democrats scrambling for a last-minute candidate
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CFP) — Less than three weeks before Florida’s filing deadline, Democrat Alex Sink has announced that she won’t seek a rematch with Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly in the state’s 13th U.S. House District, leaving her party scrambling to find a new candidate.
Jolly narrowly defeated Sink in a March special election for the St. Petersburg-based seat, despite an all-out effort on her behalf by national Democratic officials.
“After reflection with my family, I have made a personal decision not to run,” Sink said in a statement. “I remain totally convinced that a Democrat can and will win this congressional seat in the fall, and I look forward to helping the Democratic nominee.”
Although Republicans hold an edge in party registration in the 13th District, it is one of just three GOP-held congressional districts in the South that President Barack Obama carried in 2012, making it a top Democratic target. The seat became vacant when Republican U.S. Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young, who held it for more than 42 years, died last October.
Jolly, 41, a former Washington lobbyist and Young aide, is seeking a full term in November. The filing deadline for Democrats who want to run against Jolly is May 2.
Sink, 65, Florida’s former chief financial officer, was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010, narrowly losing to Gov. Rick Scott. Although she didn’t live in the district, she was recruited to run by national party officials. Once she got into the race, other Democrats in Pinellas County stepped aside.
Outside Democratic and Republican groups poured more than $9 million into the special election, which was seen as a bellweather of their political prospects heading into November’s mid-term election.
The main fault line in the campaign was Obamacare, which Sink embraced and Jolly opposed.
David Jolly keeps Florida U.S. House seat in GOP hands
Jolly, a Washington lobbyist and former House aide, defeats Democrat Alex Sink in 13th District special election
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpoiltics.com editor
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CFP) — Republican David Jolly has won a special election for Florida’s vacant 13th U.S. House District, narrowly beating Democrat Alex Sink and dashing Democratic hopes of taking away what had been seen as a vulnerable GOP seat.
Jolly won 48.5 percent in the March 11 race, compared to 46.6 percent for Sink, a margin of less than 3,500 votes. Libertarian Lucas Overby carried 4.8 percent.
National Democratic officials had pulled out all the stops for Sink, including visits by Vice President Joe Biden and Bill Clinton. The main fault line in the campaign was Obamacare, which Sink embraced and Jolly opposed.
Jolly, 41, is a Washington lobbyist and former aide to the late U.S. Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young, who held the St. Petersburg-based seat for more than 42 years before his death in October.
Sink, 65, is the state’s former chief financial officer. She was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010, narrowly losing to Gov. Rick Scott.
Sink does not live in the district. But after she was recruited to run by national party officials, other Democrats in Pinellas County stepped aside.
Outside Democratic and Republican groups had poured more than $9 million into the race, which was seen as a bellweather of their political prospects heading into November’s mid-term election.
While Republicans hold a lead in party registration in the 13th District, President Barack Obama narrowly carried it in both 2008 and 2012. The district is one of only three Republican-held seats in the South that went for Obama in 2012.
Jolly will have to defend the seat in November, and he told Fox News that he expects Democrats to come at him just as hard.
“This will be just as close of a race,” he said.
In her concession speech, Sink did not say if she plans to seek the seat again in November.
Field set for bellweather U.S. House race in Florida
Republican David Jolly wins primary and will face Democrat Alex Sink in March 11 special election in the 13th District
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CFP) — Republican lobbyist David Jolly has defeated two other GOP rivals to claim his party’s nomination for the open 13th District U.S. House seat in Florida, which Democrats have high hopes of capturing in a March 11 special election.
Jolly, 41, won 45 percent of the vote in the January 14 primary, beating out Florida State Rep. Kathleen Peters and retired Marine Corps General Mark Bircher. He will now face Democrat Alex Sink in the special election to replace the late U.S. Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young, who died in October.
The district, which takes in most of Pinellas County, including St. Petersburg and Clearwater, is one of just three House seats in the South that President Barack Obama carried in 2012.
Democrats have high hopes that Sink, the party’s nominee for governor in 2010, will be able to flip the seat, which Young, an institution in Tampa Bay-area politics, had held since 1970.
Jolly is a former aide to Young, who left Capitol Hill to become a lobbyist. Peters made his lobbying an issue during the campaign, painting him as a Washington insider.
The race also divided Young’s family. His widow, Beverly, supported Jolly, but his son, Bill Young II, backed Peters.
Bircher had the support of Allen West, a Tea Party favorite and former congressman from Palm Beach County.
Peters came in second, with 31 percent; Bircher, third, with 24 percent.
Sink, 65, a former bank executive, was elected as Florida’s chief financial officer in 2006. In 2010, she ran for governor, narrowly losing to Republican Rick Scott.
Earlier this year, Sink decided against a rematch with Scott but decided to for the 13th District seat after Young’s death, even though at the time she lived outside the district in neighboring Hillsborough County.
Despite parachuting into the district, Sink avoided a primary fight after St. Petersburg attorney Jessica Ehrlich dropped out of the race and other Pinellas Democrats opted not to run.
Given Obama’s victory in the district, and the fact that Sink carried Pinellas County in her race for governor, Democrats are hoping to make a pickup.
The outcome in such a closely divided bellweather district may be an early indication of how much problems with the rollout of Obamacare have hurt Democrats ahead of the 2014 elections.
GOP Rep. Bill Young’s death creates a scramble for Florida House seat
Democrats hope to flip seat from a district President Obama carried
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics editor
CLEARWATER, Florida (CFP) – The death of Republican icon Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young of Florida has opened up a Tampa Bay-area district, giving Democrats one of their best prospects of flipping a seat anywhere in the South.
A slew of Republican and Democratic candidates are considering the race to replace Young, who died October 18 at the age of 82. His death will necessitate a special election to fill the remainder of his current term, with a second election to follow in 2014.
Under Florida law, Republican Governor Rick Scott will decide when the special election will take place. He has not yet set a date.
Young’s 13th House District is one of just three districts in the South held by Republicans that President Barack Obama carried in 2012. The other two are Virginia’s 2nd District, held by Rep. Scott Rigell, and Florida’s 27th District, held by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
After Young announced his retirement just days before he died, two candidates – Democrat Jessica Ehrlich, who ran unsuccessfully against Young in 2012, and Republican Nick Zoller, a political consultant – said they would run in 2014.
In the wake of Young’s death, other candidates have stayed on the sidelines out of respect for the veteran congressman, who had represented the Saint Petersburg area in Congress since 1970.
Zoller told the SaintPetersBlog that he while he still planned to run in 2014, he would not run in the special election, suggesting that Young’s widow, Beverly, be elected to finish his term. Young’s son, Bill Young II, has also been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate to replace his late father.
Much of the speculation on the Democratic side has centered around Alex Sink, Florida’s former chief financial officer, who narrowly lost a race for governor in 2010 to Scott.
Earlier this year, Sink decided against a rematch with Scott but has told local media that she is interested in running in the 13th District. However, Sink does not live in Pinellas County, where the district in located. She lives in neighboring Hillsborough County, and it is unclear whether ambitious Pinellas Democrats would allow her to parachute in without a fight.