Democratic field clears for Alex Sink in Florida special election

November 6, 2013
FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2010 file photo, Alex Sink, speaks during a gubernatorial debate in Miami. Sink announced Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2-13 that she will move to Pinellas County and run for the congressional seat that had been held by U.S. Rep. Bill Young. Young died earlier this month. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter, File)
 Alex Sink (AP Photo/J Pat Carter, File)

The coast is clear for Alex Sink in the special election for the late Rep. Bill Young's (R-Fla.) seat -- at least in the Democratic primary.

Young's 2012 opponent, Jessica Ehrlich, dropped out of the race on Wednesday after the Democratic establishment lined up behind Sink, the former state chief financial officer and 2010 gubernatorial nominee.

"This morning I am officially announcing that I am suspending my campaign for Congress," Ehrlich said in a statement, adding: "While this is not the result I was hoping for, I remain committed to helping the families of Pinellas County, this state, and this country."

Sink, who entered the race after Young's death, quickly grabbed the support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic women's group Emily's List, which had previously supported Ehrlich.

The race for Young's seat is key because it will be held in early 2014 in a swing district. Accordingly, it will be looked to for clues about the 2014 landscape.

The GOP field has yet to shake out. Over the weekend, former St. Petersburg mayor Rick Baker opted not to run, clearing way for his former general counsel, David Jolly. Jolly has the backing of Young's widow, Beverly.

Other potential candidates include former Clearwater mayor Frank Hibbard, former Pinellas county commissioner Neil Brickfield, and current Pinellas county commissioner Karen Seel.

The primary for the special election will be held Jan. 14, with the general election on March 11.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · November 6, 2013