The Most Botched House Race of 2014

Democratic-endorsed independent Ed Jany dropped out of the race for Florida’s 13th District, a swing seat that has bedeviled Democrats this year.

Republican Rep. David Jolly's swing seat path to reelection looks easier Tuesday after his main challenger dropped out.
National Journal
Jack Fitzpatrick
May 13, 2014, 10 a.m.

Wash­ing­ton and Flor­ida Demo­crats took the un­usu­al step of en­dors­ing an in­de­pend­ent can­did­ate for Flor­ida’s 13th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict at the last minute on the fil­ing dead­line day. Now they have egg on their faces after in­de­pend­ent Ed Jany, a re­gistered Demo­crat, sur­pris­ingly dropped out of the race Tues­day, again drain­ing Demo­crat­ic hopes of chal­len­ging GOP Rep. Dav­id Jolly in a Tampa-area swing seat.

Jany, in a state­ment to The Tampa Bay Times (which first re­por­ted the news), said he “wrongly as­sumed” he could handle his pro­fes­sion­al work­load dur­ing a polit­ic­al cam­paign.

Just two months ago, Demo­crats may have been slightly favored to cap­ture the seat held for dec­ades by the late Rep. Bill Young, who died late last year. But des­pite field­ing former gubernat­ori­al can­did­ate Alex Sink, a fun­drais­ing dy­namo who came in­to the race with high name re­cog­ni­tion and be­nefited from mil­lions of dol­lars in out­side group spend­ing, the party suffered a nar­row de­feat in the March spe­cial elec­tion against Re­pub­lic­an Dav­id Jolly.

It’s only got­ten worse from there. Sink de­clined to run again in the fall des­pite a con­cer­ted re­cruit­ment ef­fort, leav­ing the party to turn to Jany, a former Re­pub­lic­an who had to run as an in­de­pend­ent be­cause, un­der Flor­ida law, he hadn’t been re­gistered as a Demo­crat long enough. In an ef­fort to help Jany, party lead­ers pres­sured loc­al NAACP chapter Pres­id­ent Manuel Sykes, a Demo­crat, to drop out of the race, leav­ing no one on the party line. 

Now Demo­crats don’t have Jany either, and those they pushed out the way on his be­half don’t sound eager to jump back in­to the race. 

Jany’s de­par­ture from the con­test leaves Demo­crats with few op­tions in a dis­trict that now looks in­creas­ingly se­cure for the GOP. Sykes told Na­tion­al Journ­al he is un­likely to get back in the race be­cause of how the Pinel­las County Demo­crat­ic Party treated him when ask­ing him to drop out. County Party Chair­man Mark Han­isee, he said, left him a voice­mail say­ing he would be “per­sona non grata” if he stayed in the race.

“I don’t want to get mixed up with party lead­er­ship,” Sykes said. “Even if they smile at me, I know it’s not sin­cere. I don’t feel com­fort­able.”

Demo­crats have “a snow­ball’s chance” of win­ning the seat now, Sykes ad­ded. “It’s an ad­ven­ture. It’s really a laugh­able situ­ation.”

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