1. Opinion

Ruth: Lure of the campaign becomes an addiction for Alex Sink

"If you all will take your seats we can begin this week's meeting of Politicians Anonymous. As you can see, we have a new member joining us tonight. Would you care to introduce yourself? Don't be shy."

"Hi, my name's Alex and I'm an addicted politician."

"Everybody now — Hi, Alex! And welcome. Acknowledging your dependence on concession speeches is a good sign on your 12-step road to recovery. Would you care to tell us your tale of woe?"

"Oh, it's just a miserable story of running and losing, running and losing. But I can't control my inner urges to shake hands with total strangers and pretend that I actually care about them. Dear God, someone help me, because I think I might relapse and run again."

"So Alex, aren't you afraid of being branded a perennial also-ran if you launch another bid for office, being labeled sort of the Harold Stassen of Tampa Bay?"

"That's just it! I don't care. I simply lust for the hustings, no matter how embarrassing or how belittled I might become. And that's my problem. I've come so, so, so close to winning. I've become like a compulsive gambler who feels the next turn of the roulette wheel, the next hand of poker will finally flip my way."

"We all feel your pain, especially Mitt over there in the corner, who just comes to meetings and stares at the number '47 percent' every week. Sad."

"You don't know the half of it. I once actually won a race when I got elected Florida's chief financial officer by 7 — count 'em — 7 big, honking percentage points. It was like mainlining crack cocaine. I was hooked. And then my long descent into getting nipped in photo-finishes began."

"Oh dear, it was that bad?"

"First I lost a governor's race to Rick Scott, a guy who oversaw a company charged with the largest case of Medicare fraud in the nation's history — by a lousy, stinking 1.2 percentage point margin. Sheesh, I suppose after that loss I'm lucky for not being in an AA meeting rather than here."

"What were the voters thinking?"

"Actually the body politic being capable of forming a thought would seem to be the problematic operative term here. And then things only went more downhill from there. A few months ago, glutton for punishment that I am, I lost a special election, this time to succeed the late Bill Young in Congress, to David Jolly, a silk-stocking Washington lobbyist who accused me of being a carpetbagger, although he has spent less time in the district than Hernando de Soto."

"And you lost by how much?"

"Less than 2 points."

"Ouch. That had to hurt."

"Hurt? I lost to a guy who thinks climate change is a passing fad."

"So I sense you are thinking of running again against Jolly in the November elections?"

"If I had any sense, I'd go enjoy life, travel to Paris, visit with family and friends — move back to Hillsborough County. But when you come so close in a campaign, it is just awfully hard to walk away. I suppose if I had been royally beaten by 7, 8 points, it would be a lot easier to hang it up. So, sure, I'm taking a look at another campaign."

"This sounds like a desperate plea for help."

"You bet it is. I need help getting to 50.1 percent. That's what I need."

"Suppose another Democrat decides to get in the race, too."

"Let them try. Did I mention I have a death stare that can melt diamonds? Look, all I want is one more whack at that Ken doll posing as a congressman, and if it doesn't work out you'll never hear from me again — at least until 2016 and if not then, 2018, and if not then …"

"I think we're gonna need a few more steps here. Uh, can someone get Alex a nice blanket and perhaps some warm milk? Governor? Sarah? You're not doing anything."

"Wait a minute! That's it! I've had a revelation! The perfect campaign slogan. How's this? 'Alex Sink for Congress — In your heart you know she'll win — eventually!' "

"Well, our session is almost over before we head to fellow Politician Anonymous member Ed Turanchik's Lame Duck Lounge to cry into some beers. See you next week, Alex?"

"Yeah, I've got nothing else to do."