It’s only been a week since 21-term U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young‘s funeral, and already a top Florida Democrat is trying to fill the void.
After losing to Gov. Rick Scott in 2010 by 1 percent and declining to run for governor in 2014, Alex Sink said Wednesday she officially intends to run for the District 13 congressional seat that Young, a Republican, dominated for nearly 43 years.
But Sink doesn’t live in the district she wants to represent.
District 13 is wholly located in Pinellas County, and it includes St. Petersburg and parts of Clearwater.
The former state chief financial officer and Bank of America executive lives an hour away in east Hillsborough County. That may prove problematic for the many district voters who have long viewed Young as a local hero.
Mark Hanisee, chairman of the Pinellas County Democratic Party, says he doesn’t see an outsider label as a problem.
“Let me say this, We’re one area,” said Hanisee. “We are the Tampa Bay region and I know (Sink) plans to move to Pinellas County. She will be well received.”
Maybe so. Despite Young’s epic popularity — recently winning by 15 percent in 2012 and 32 percent in 2010 — President Obama carried the district over Mitt Romney last year, 50-49.
Winning the upcoming District 13 special election would go a long way toward the 16 seatsU.S. House Democrats need to gain a majority, which would then give Democrats unified control over Congress and the White House.
That prospect worries Pinellas County Republicans.
“She’ll probably be supported by a lot of folks in Washington, D.C.,” said Mark Guju, chairman of the Pinellas County GOP. “Sink has very little, if any, contact with Pinellas County. I predict she’ll receive large donations from outside the district.”
Guju said former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and former Pinellas County Commissioner David Jolly would make strong opponents for Sink.
“I think what it really boils down to is who best can represent Pinellas and southern Pinellas County. I think that would be someone who knows the issues facing us and not someone who lives an hour away,” said Guju.
Florida Watchdog contacted Young’s 2012 Democratic opponent Jessica Ehrlich for comment but did not immediately receive a response. Ehrlich, who was born in St. Petersburg, announced she was running again for the seat April 18.
The governor has yet to schedule a the special election date, but it will most likely be in early 2014. The winner will face re-election during the regularly scheduled November mid-terms.
Contact William Patrick at [email protected]
Published with permission from Watchdog.org
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