Former state CFO Alex Sink announced Tuesday that she would not run again against U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla.,who who defeated her in a special congressional election last month.
"While I am not running for office in 2014, I will keep an open dialogue with all of you and continue to seek new ways to serve," Sink insisted.
Democrats had high expectations for Sink, who moved from Hillsborough County to the Pinellas County district for the special election for the congressional seat left vacant by the death of longtime U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla. Sink had an open shot at the Democratic nomination when the party-squeezing attorney Jessica Ehrlich, who ran against Young in 2012, bowed out of the race.
Jolly, on the other hand, faced two Republicans in the primary.
Sink was well-regarded after winning the state CFO race in 2006 and being competitive in the 2010 gubernatorial race against Rick Scott.Prominent Democrats like former President Bill Clinton and former Gov. Charlie Crist even went out of their way to help Sink in her campaign. On top of their support, Sink also relied on prominent Democratic groups including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), House Majority PAC and Emilys List, who hit Jolly on the airwaves and with direct mail.
Jolly relied on Republican groups like the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and American Crossroads to hit back at Sink. Despite being a political newcomer, Jolly also proved to be a hard worker on the campaign trail.
When the dust cleared, Jolly beat Sink by almost 2 percent.
Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., urged Sink to run again and she left the door open.
Israel insists Jolly will still face a major Democratic opponent despite Sink staying on the sidelines.
I commend Alex Sink for her strong campaign, which truly reflected her career of passionate service to Floridas families and I know she will continue to make significant contributions to her community, said Israel. Pinellas residents have voted time and again for common-sense solutions instead of reckless partisanship, which is why we are confident our Democratic nominee can prevail on Election Day.
In the last few weeks, Congressman David Jolly has become the latest face of the most reckless Republican Congress in modern history and he will be forced to campaign under the full weight of his partys toxic brand in November: raising taxes on middle class families, ending the Medicare guarantee for seniors, and jeopardizing economic growth for businesses all to give more to corporate special interests and the ultra-wealthy, he added.
The NRCC insisted Sink knew she couldnt beat Jolly in a rematch.
Washington Democrats cant even convince their die-hard career politicians to walk the plank this November, said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC. Its obvious that Alex Sink stood zero chance of beating David Jolly this November and her decision not to run only proves that the 2014 midterm elections are going to be extremely rough for Democrats across the country.
With Sink out of the mix, possible Democratic candidates include Ehrlich, who appeared on Fox News on Tuesday morning before Sink made her announcement. Rev. Manuel Sykes, Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long and Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice's names have also been thrown around as possible contenders.
Invoking the memory of her late husband Bill McBride, the Democratic nominee who challenged Gov. Jeb Bush in 2002, Sink vowed to help whoever runs against Pinellas County's newly-elected congressman.
In the words of Bill, I look forward to continuing to do good," Sink said. I remain totally convinced that a Democrat can and will win this congressional seat in the fall, and I look forward to helping the Democratic nominee.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.