Anything we thought we knew about the special election for the District 13 U.S. House of Representatives seat held for 43 years by the late C.W. Bill Young was turned upside down when Alex Sink joined the race.
Though Young kept the seat Republican for more than four decades, that was more a testament to him than the party. He enjoyed plenty of crossover support from Democrats, voters who now may gravitate to Sink and turn a reliably red seat blue.
So given all that, there is only thing we can say for sure: This race could set new standards of nasty, at least until next year’s race for governor.
Start with the fact she will be labeled a carpetbagger because she doesn’t actually live in this district. She plans to move to Pinellas County, which incorporates much of the district, but for the past several years she has lived in Thonotosassa.
For the geographically challenged, that’s a rural paradise in eastern Hillsborough County that has absolutely nothing in common with the district she hopes to represent.
Republicans were also quick to reach into the same playbook Rick Scott used in the 2010 governor’s race when he painted Sink as a big-spending financial incompetent.
None of that was true, by the way, but you see who is governor now, don’t you?
“How can Florida families trust Alex Sink in Washington when she wasted their money at home with no remorse?” Katie Prill, spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Wednesday.
“After wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars as the chief financial officer for Florida through risky investments and losing billions through Florida’s state pension fund, it’s clear that Sink has no problem hurting Florida seniors and families.”
Let’s see: She’s a drop-in who hates seniors, squanders money from hardworking taxpayers and will destroy families.
And that was just the first day of her candidacy. By the time the primary is held, probably in January, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone leaks that she hates ponies, puppies and kittens. That’s how hard Republicans will fight to hold this seat.
The ferocity of the attacks also shows how formidable a candidate the GOP thinks Sink is.
Though she doesn’t live in the district, she is well-liked in Pinellas. She has instant name recognition, too. That matters a lot.
The bigger mystery now is why anyone wants this job.
Congress has an approval rating two notches below the tsetse fly, and whomever wins this race will be judged against Young’s legacy. That’s a tough gig, especially since the newcomer will have no influence in Washington.
But none of that matters now. Sink is in the game, and that changes everything.