1. Florida Politics

Sink still considers another Pinellas congressional bid

As Democrat Alex Sink ponders whether to run for Congress again, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is starting to contact Pinellas voters with automated phone calls criticizing a Republican budget proposal.

In other words, it might soon feel like campaign season, less than a month after the county's hard-fought special election and right when locals thought it was safe to start answering their phones again.

Sink told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday she had received a detailed results analysis of the March 11 election in which Republican David Jolly defeated her. Jolly got 48.4 percent of the vote, Sink received 46.5 percent, Libertarian Lucas Overby received 4.8 percent and a write-in candidate received less than 0.2 percent.

Sink said the data showed Republicans and Democrats voted as expected, but not as many independent voters turned out as they expected. She said she believes her lead among independent voters was in double digits.

The question now, she said, "is really about November and what the electorate will look like."

In the regularly scheduled Nov. 4 general election, turnout will be higher and more independent voters might show up, she pointed out.

USF St. Petersburg professor emeritus Darryl Paulson said in an email that he's not sure Sink should run because of her narrow loss to Jolly on the heels of her narrow loss to Rick Scott in the 2010 governor's race.

"Will financial contributors be willing to pony up more money for a candidate who lost two races" she was expected to win? he wrote. "I think that will be a major issue."

But other Democrats are urging her to go for it, starting with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel, who said this one day after the special election: "If Alex Sink decides to run, she will win in November and we will do everything, and I mean everything, to support her."

The special election was held to find a successor to longtime Republican U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who died in October.

Meanwhile, the DCCC has been attacking a Republican budget proposal in the U.S. House. Last week it launched Web-based ads "alerting Floridians that congressman Jolly's budget raises taxes on hardworking families, ends the Medicare guarantee and costs our economy 3 million jobs."

Calling it "congressman Jolly's budget" may be a stretch, considering he hasn't even announced yet whether he'll vote for it. The calls encourage local voters to be automatically connected to Jolly's office so they can "tell congressman Jolly that his House Republicans should stop selling out the middle class and instead focus on creating good jobs."

During the recent campaign, Jolly said he would not have voted for previous "Ryan budget" proposals that called for turning Medicare into a voucher system. Asked about the latest proposal, Jolly said through an aide on Monday that "it's premature to comment on the budget. I'll see what's in the final version when it hits the floor."

This story has been changed to reflect the following correction: A quote in a Tuesday story about Alex Sink pondering another Pinellas congressional bid was incorrectly attributed. It was USF St. Petersburg professor emeritus Darryl Paulson who said Sink might have trouble raising money because of her previous losses.

Adam C. Smith contributed to this report. Curtis Krueger can be reached at or (727) 893-8232.