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Alex Sink Facing Watered-Down GOP Opposition for Open Congress Seat

November 6, 2013 - 6:00pm

Even as Alex Sink faces an easier path to the Democratic nomination in a special election for an open seat in Congress, Republicans are helping her cause by staying out of the contest.

Bill Young may have held the seat for 43 years before his death in October but his fellow Republicans arent exactly lining up to run for it now. On Thursday, Frank Hibbard, the former mayor of Clearwater, said he was not running for the Republican nomination for the seat. Hibbard joins several other big-name Republicans like Jeff Brandes, Rick Baker, and Jack Latvala by staying out of the contest. Its also increasingly looking that members of Youngs family will remain on the sidelines.

While other Republicans have until Nov. 19 to get in the race, its increasingly looking like David Jolly, a former Young aide and a lobbyist with ties to the Beltway, will be the Republican nominee. Jolly has the blessing of Youngs widow but he remains largely unknown in the Pinellas County district.

Sink doesnt have that problem. She might live out of the district but shes pretty well-known in the Tampa Bay region from her days in banking. Sink of course also did well in the district when she successfully ran for state CFO in 2006 and her unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in 2010.

As of now, Jolly and Sink should have few problems getting their partys nominations. Sink chased off Jessica Ehrlich out of the Democratic field, and other possible candidates like Charlie Justice and Janet Long have stayed out. Jollys path is a little tougher with Nick Zoller staying in the primary. Still, Jollys chances for the nomination are improving by the day as the GOP starts to rally behind him.

But unless Jolly is able to defy expectations and beat Sink, Republicans could be placing themselves in a bad situation, especially with the gubernatorial race and state House contests looming on the horizon.

Democrats are claiming momentum in Florida, especially the Tampa Bay area, after two recent elections. Amanda Young picked up a Pasco County House seat for Democrats in a special election. Democrat Rick Kriseman defeated sitting Republican Bill Foster on Tuesday to become the next mayor of St. Petersburg.

If Sink blows out Jolly or whoever the Republicans nominate, Democrats across Florida will be crowing about their momentum. This is not exactly what Rick Scott wants to hear as he enters a tough battle for a second term. With big-name candidates staying out against Sink and in the race to challenge Patrick Murphy, Republican congressional recruitment in Florida, with the big exception of Carlos Curbelo against Joe Garcia, isnt exactly impressive so far in the 2014 elections.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.

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