More than a dozen operatives and officials from both parties interviewed by POLITICO were almost unanimous that Democrat Alex Sink, her party’s 2010 nominee for Florida governor, has emerged as the unambiguous favorite in the race. The primary, in which Sink has run unopposed as a group of Republicans have slugged it out, is on Tuesday. The general election is on March 11.
Democrats need to gain 17 seats to win the House majority in November. An early win in Florida would give the party ammunition to argue they‘re in for a better year than political handicappers expect. A loss, on the other hand, would be widely seen as a serious blow: On Thursday, political analyst Stu Rothenberg penned a piece in Roll Call titled, “The Race Democrats Can’t Afford to Lose.”
Republicans admit they are increasingly alarmed about the prospect of losing the St. Petersburg-area district. Democrats, after enduring a heartbreaking loss in a 2013 South Carolina special election they thought was theirs, are carefully managing expectations but can smell victory.
We need all the D's who can win that we can get, and this is a seat we can win.
Among Republicans there is unhappiness with the candidates in Tuesday’s GOP primary and disappointment that many of the party’s best and brightest who long had been thought of as successors to Young didn’t run.
David Jolly, who’s seen as the favorite to get the GOP nod, is a Washington lobbyist — a profession that leaves him vulnerable to being portrayed as a hired gun and insider. State Rep. Kathleen Peters began the race with plenty of promise, winning endorsements from a group of House GOP women eager to expand their ranks. But some Republicans believe her campaign has fizzled, with the candidate scoring low in recent polls. Mark Bircher, a little-known Iraq War veteran, has struggled to raise money.
Or maybe the problem is the GOP brand has been so tarnished by extremist nutcases like Allen West and Rick Scott that Florida is tired of electing them. Go figure.
We'll keep an eye on this race in March.