Things are starting to break David Jollys way as he gears up to run for a full term in Congress come November and old foes opt out of running again.
Jolly scored the upset when he beat Alex Sink in a special election last month but he beat the Democrat by less than 2 percent. Libertarian Lucas Overby raised eyebrows by taking almost 5 percent in the special election.
Despite his narrow win, Jolly wont face either Sink or Overby in November. Although encouraged by national Democrats, including the DCCC, to run again, Sink announced earlier this month that she would stay out of it. This week, Overby said he would not run again. Its hard to imagine another Libertarian having as much success in impacting the race as Overby did last month and could have in November.
With Sink and Overby out, other faces are looking at entering the contest. Jessica Ehrlich broke 40 percent against Bill Young in 2012, the first Democrat to do so in decades. Before Young died, Ehrlich was already running hard, looking for a rematch. But once Sink got in, Democrats went out of their way to chase Ehrlich out. Even as the NRCC is already taking shots at her, Ehrlich is thinking about running yet again.
Already on the field is Manuel Sykes who will have to move into the district to run. Sykes is a local pastor and NAACP activist who is known in the region. But Sykes has problems of his own, including fathering an out-of-wedlock child and reportedly encouraging the mother to have an abortion.
Jolly could also face a primary rival in Nick Zoller. But Zoller has been throwing his name out there for a while and has attracted little support. Jolly also won a three-way primary with 45 percent. His win over Sink only served to rally Republicans behind him.
This is a swing district, as Jollys small margin of victory over Sink shows. As the window continues to close for Democrats to take the House back from Republicans, they need to do well, almost a near sweep, in tossup races and battles in swing districts. Democrats need to defeat Republicans like Jolly if theyre going to have any chance of making progress in the House. But increasingly Jolly looks safer come November. Thats bad news for Democrats across Florida and the nation as their chances of winning back the House grow slimmer by the day.
Tallahassee-based political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.