It’s been framed as the clearest barometer of the public’s mood heading into this year’s midterms: a special election battle for a 50-50 congressional district in the famously 50-50 state of Florida.
But upon closer inspection, the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, occupied by Republican Bill Young for more than four decades until his death in October, is not quite the bellwether it’s being portrayed as.
More than a dozen operatives and officials from both parties interviewed by POLITICO were almost unanimous that Democrat Alex Sink, her party’s 2010 nominee for Florida governor, has emerged as the unambiguous favorite in the race. The primary, in which Sink has run unopposed as a group of Republicans have slugged it out, is on Tuesday. The general election is on March 11.
Democrats need to gain 17 seats to win the House majority in November. An early win in Florida would give the party ammunition to argue they‘re in for a better year than political handicappers expect. A loss, on the other hand, would be widely seen as a serious blow: On Thursday, political analyst Stu Rothenberg penned a piece in Roll Call titled, “The Race Democrats Can’t Afford to Lose.”