Let's See if Alex Sink Can Take a Political Punch
Around the State
Alex Sink has learned a lesson from old rival Rick Scott as she runs for an open congressional seat but Republicans want to see how she does under fire.
It’s easy to forget that Sink does not have much of an electoral background. While she might have been the only Florida Democrat besides Bill Nelson to win a statewide election in recent years, Sink has only won one election: she beat Tom Lee to become state CFO in 2006, but that’s the extent of her electoral triumphs. Sink faced only Brian Moore back in 2010, a Civil War re-enactor who was the Socialist Party’s presidential candidate in 2008. Despite facing only Moore, Sink took 77 percent in the Democratic primary while the former Socialist still got the rest.
One of the ways Scott deflected attacks against his record in the business world, including questions about being involved with Medicad fraud, was by running television commercials featuring his mother, Esther Scott, praising her son. The commericals worked and Sink has clearly taken notes on how Scott made himself look more human at her expense. She’s now running commercials with her father singing her praises.
David Jolly and his Republican allies are throwing everything but the kitchen sink (no pun intended) at the Democrat as they look to hold on to the congressional seat Bill Young kept in the GOP column for more than 40 years. They’re hitting Sink on Obamacare, moving into the district just for the race, her record in Tallahassee and now wasting taxpayer dollars on travel when she was state CFO.
This is is a close race, to be sure, with a St. Pete poll showing Jolly ahead by 4 percent, even as national pundits think Sink has the momentum to win the race. But Sink has often failed to show the ability to take a punch politically. She tightens up when facing tough questions and can blow big moments like the debate with Scott and its aftermath. Sink’s glass jaw has nothing to do with the political glass ceiling since there are plenty of female politicians, like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Nikki Haley, Jan Brewer and plenty of others who have no problems landing or taking political attacks.
Sink’s failure to brush off attacks and adversity does show her lack of electoral and campaign experience. Even with her success against Lee and being the widow of former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride, Sink’s background is much more tied into the private sector than in politics. It showed in 2010 against Scott, another electoral novice certainly, but also one who gained political experience fighting against Obamacare in 2009.
This should be a close election, but Republicans are hoping they can trip Sink up with a barrage of attacks. The blows directed at her started well before the Republican primary. This race will be greatly shaped by how Sink deals with attacks against her, and Jolly and the GOP will do their best to test her ability to take a punch.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson writes exclusively for Sunshine State News.