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Bitter primary looms for District 13 GOP hopefuls

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Published:   |   Updated: December 29, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Three Republicans looking to win the District 13 Congressional seat vacated with October’s passing of 21-term Congressman C.W. “Bill” Young are in for a fight as the Jan. 14 primary approaches.

National media and political analysts have been tuned in from the beginning as the special election will fill an open seat in an increasingly Democrat-leaning swing district. Some see it as bellwether to the Democrats’ chances of taking control of the House in November; others see it as a public litmus test on President Obama’s health care overhaul.

Despite the media attention, the three Republican primary contenders are relatively unknown, beyond what’s been revealed in a handful of news conferences, a few mailings and one debate.

Campaigning has gone decidedly negative in the short election cycle, especially between Kathleen Peters, a state representative, and David Jolly, a former lobbyist and legal counsel to Young. A third candidate, Mark Bircher, is a political newcomer.

District 13 encompasses most of Pinellas County, from Dunedin to Tierra Verde, excluding parts of downtown and South St. Petersburg. The winner will face Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the general election March 11.

Aside from a few common themes — namely their disdain for Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act — the primary candidates have decidedly different stories.

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