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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

CD 13 House race: 'As close to a bellwether district as there is'



Today's New York Times includes a story about the special election to fill the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young's Pinellas congressional seat. The Republican primary (with David JollyKathleen Peters and Mark Bircher) is Jan. 14. The general election is March 11 and will include Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby. An excerpt from the NYT piece:

Mr. Young’s personal dominance kept the seat frozen in place for four decades. But beneath the surface, changes in the area’s electoral map including an influx of Democrats — some of them gay voters and young people — have diluted the share of moderate Republicans, turning it into one of the rare commodities in American politics: a true swing district. Now, his absence has set off a contest in the first race of the 2014 battle for control of Congress, with both parties hoping for a victory and watching carefully how President Obama’s health care law may affect the outcome.

Determined to snatch the long-awaited open seat in the March 11 special election, Democrats effectively cleared the field for Alex Sink, a former chief financial officer of Florida, who ran for governor and lost in 2010. Ms. Sink did not even live in the district, Pinellas County, in October; she packed up and moved one county over last month.

Shortly after, three little-known Republican candidates jumped into the fray. They find themselves competing not only against one another in the Jan. 14 primary but against the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, in which bah-humbug advertising can spoil the merriment. A Libertarian candidate, Lucas Overby, also joined the contest.

Already the race is being viewed as an early litmus test, particularly for the Democrats. Amid the torrent of tribulation still facing Mr. Obama’s health care program, the Democrats are pining for a dollop of good news. A winner here could stoke momentum nationally and in Florida heading into the November election, political analysts said.

“This is as close to a bellwether district as there is in the House,” said David Wasserman, the editor in charge of House races for The Cook Political Report. “If Democrats can’t do it with a great candidate like Alex Sink, they simply won’t be in a position to compete in 2014. That’s why this race is so critical for both sides, but especially for Democrats.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 24, 2013 10:21am]


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