After Bill Young's Funeral Comes His Coveted House Seat Race
Around the State
After Bill Young’s funeral Thursday, the race to replace him will kick off and draw national attention.
Candidates on both the Republican and Democratic sides are already starting to gauge support as they look at getting in the race. If she gets in, Alex Sink is the front-runner on the Democratic side though Jessica Ehrlich shows no signs of getting out and the likes of Charlie Justice and Janet Long look at jumping in. On the Republican side, Rick Baker would be a strong candidate if he gets in, while Larry Crow, David Jolly, Karen Seel, Bill Young II and others could also be factors.
Both parties have a lot at stake in this race as they reposition themselves after the federal shutdown. Most of the races this year simply didn’t shape up as competitive. Just like Cory Booker did in his Senate victory last week, Chris Christie has little competition in New Jersey. Bill de Blasio is headed for a big win and should easily become the first Democrat to win a New York City mayoral election since 1989.
Still, the shutdown could be a factor in the special election just as it is right now in Virginia. All polls show Terry McAuliffe in good shape to beat Ken Cuccinelli in November’s gubernatorial election. Northern Virginia voters, many of whom either work for or have ties to the federal government, are angry about the shutdown and backing McAuliffe.
But Pinellas County, which Young represented, simply isn’t as connected to the federal government as Alexandria and Fairfax County are. Democrats and Republicans will be able to battle it out in the special election and get a better read on where voters stand on the shutdown, debt ceiling, Obamacare funding and other issues.
In the special election, Democrats have a chance to pick up a congressional seat and chip away at Republican control of the House. While Young pulled together wins here for more than 40 years, this is a competitive district though Democrats should be pleased by Barack Obama’s and Sink’s showings in the area in recent elections. But it’s not a slam dunk for Democrats by any means and both sides will invest heavily in this race.
Keep an eye on Tallahassee’s role in this race. Rick Scott holds a pretty valuable card in this race since he has the luxury to schedule the special election and try to give Republicans the advantage of timing. As Florida has seen for the last seven months without a lieutenant governor, Scott is not one to shape the calendar due to immediate pressures. But even before Scott schedules the special election, candidates will be off and running.
Regardless of when Scott schedules the election, this race will be a political main event. It’s a competitive contest in a major media market in the largest swing state in American politics. Both sides will dig in to win this one as they try to pick up momentum as they move to November 2014.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.