Jessica Ehrlich isnt running again for Congress but the prominent Florida Democrat shows no signs of going away as she continues her stint as a pundit on Fox News. But her announcement that she isnt going to run again isnt helping as Democrats look to beat a Republican incumbent in a swing district.
The daughter of noted attorney Charles Ehrlich, Jessica Ehrlich worked her way up the political and legal ladders, working as a congressional aide to Florida Republican Clay Shaw and Massachusetts Democrat Stephen Lynch and making a name for herself as a lawyer. Ehrlich also focused on womens issues at the state level and being active in the Jewish community, working with groups backing Israel and Holocaust museums.
Ehrlich was the Democratic nominee who took on Bill Young in his last congressional race back in 2012. Helped by Barack Obamas and Bill Nelsons coattails, Ehrlich took 42 percent against Young, becoming the first candidate in 20 years who broke the 40 percent mark against the longtime Tampa Bay Republican.
After losing to Young, Ehrlich didnt close shop. She simply focused her efforts on running again against Young in 2014. But when Young passed away, Democrats at the state and national levels rallied behind Alex Sink. Despite having to move from Hillsborough County, Sink was well-known from her failed gubernatorial campaign against Rick Scott in 2010. Ehrlich showed signs of staying in against Sink but the pressure was too much and she headed to the sidelines.
In retrospect, Democrats might have done better with Ehrlich. Sink stuck her foot in her mouth throughout the campaign and showed little familiarity with the new district. Nor did Sink show Ehrlichs skill in going on the attack. Republican David Jolly beat Sink in the special election last month as both sides went all out to win.
Despite being unceremonially cast aside by the Democrats, there was buzz that Ehrlich would run again. The NRCC even launched a pre-emptive attack against her. But Ehrlich took advantage of a new opportunity, appearing as a talking head on Fox News. Ehrlich is doing well in her new role, a capable liberal champion on a conservative network who can talk politics and legal matters with expertise.
Ehrlich finally slammed the door on running against Jolly on Monday, the day that kicks off qualifying week for congressional candidates in Florida.
After careful consideration, I have decided to not run for Congress at this time, Ehrlich said. New and exciting opportunities have come my way which will help me better serve my neighbors, the voters of the 13th, and all Floridians. I would like to thank all those who reached out to me encouraging me to run for their unwavering support and know that we will continue to fight together for a brighter future.
Ehrlich quickly went back to her new job, appearing on Fox News on Tuesday to offer her take on LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling whose racist comments have made national news in recent days.
In the meantime, Democrats are scrambling to find a candidate in this swing district though there is major buzz that prominent businessman Joel Cantor will enter the race to take on Jolly. But Ehrlich did Democrats no favor by announcing during the last week to qualify that she wasnt going to run. And after how the Democrats chased her out to help Sink, few can blame Ehlrich.
Tallahassee-based political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.