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
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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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