The National Republican Congressional Committee already has its sights set on keeping the House seat once held by Florida GOP Rep. Bill Young. Young passed away at the age of 82 in October and was the longest tenured Republican in the lower chamber.
While Democrats appear to have settled on running Florida’s former state CFO Alex Sink for the vacancy, a GOP January 16th primary is brewing among retired Marine Gen. Mark Bircher, a former Young aide, lawyer David Jolly, and Republican state Rep. Kathleen Peters. A three way race will emerge in the March 11th general election, as libertarian candidate Lucas Overby will join the fray.
Florida’s senior citizen population are consistent voters and the unpopularity of President Barack Obama’s health care law could very well affect the upcoming special election. NRCC spokesman Katie Prill told Sunshine State News, “Pinellas County families grabbed their newspapers today and saw in bold ink that Alex Sink and President Obama have lied about their train-wreck health care law which is hurting Florida seniors and families,” adding, “It’s pretty clear now that Alex Sink can’t be trusted and would be a risk we can’t afford in Congress.”
Sink defended herself saying, “Look, I know how this game works, and I’m not worried because our grassroots team is working to let voters know the truth.”
She explained, “I am running for Congress because I am fed up with the gridlock, the infighting, and the failure to focus on the issues that matter most. In Congress, I’ll work with both sides of the aisle to get things done by creating jobs and economic development opportunities for Pinellas families.”
Sink won her post as Chief Financial Officer of the state in 2006. She was the first Democrat to win a statewide office in eight years. However, although she sailed through her Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2010, Florida voters decided not to send her to Tallahassee, opting for Republican Rick Scott, by one point, instead.
A few things to consider with Florida’s 13th Congressional District. The majority of the Pinella’s County district is between the ages of 45 and 64. Voters in the CD, which is located on the north west side of the state, voted solidly Republican during the presidential election cycles of 2000, 2004, and 2008. However, in the last presidential election cycle, President Barack Obama managed to eke out a win in the district by one percentage point. National Journal points out:
As the Tampa Bay Times’s Adam Smith wrote last week, “Were it not for the president’s political problems and the unpopularity of Obamacare in 2010, (Sink) almost certainly would today be preparing for her gubernatorial reelection campaign.”
Meanwhile, Rothenberg Political Report’s Nathan Gonzales has suggested that the GOP could basically use those ads against Sink again next year, and with good reason.
According to Gallup’s daily tracking poll, Obama registered the lowest job-approval ratings of his first two years in the last few months before the 2010 elections, with approval ratings in the low- to mid-40s and disapproval ratings near or even over 50 percent.
Three years later, the president has sunk to the same levels or even lower in Gallup’s national polling. Just 39 percent of Americans approved of the president in Gallup’s most recent tracking, compared to 53 percent who disapprove. Obama’s numbers only sank lower during the debt-ceiling standoff in mid-2011, and they are dropping just as the special election to replace Young begins in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, a battleground seat that Obama carried by 1 percentage point during the 2012 elections.
A Quinnipiac poll in Florida shows the president’s popularity plummeting. According to the survey, 57 percent of registered voters in the Sunshine State disapproved of him. This may not only hurt Sink but also harm former Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist in next year’s governor’s race.