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Wexler Sets Off Scramble

Ring said he’s “very serious about investigating” a Congressional bid and that he planned to have poll in the field by this afternoon.

Ring, a former Yahoo executive whom Wexler also backed in 2006, said he views the Democratic primary in the 19th district as if it were a business.

“The CEO just left and the two senior vice presidents [Deutch and Ring] are vying for the job,” he said.

“Ted and I bring the same political experience,” Ring added. “But I bring very important and critical business experience, which is needed in this environment.”

Ring, who spent $800,000 of his own money on his state Senate contest, also brings deep pockets and a national fundraising network that allowed him to raise another $700,000 for that race. And fundraising will be key in an abbreviated special election.

“I think it’s no secret to say I will be the most well-funded candidate,” Ring said.

Asked if a Wexler endorsement of Deutch would make a difference in whether he decided to run, Ring said it would not. Ring said he’d make his decision based on his family needs, his career outside the Florida state Legislature and whether he sees a path to victory in the special election.

Frankel and Ritter also said Wednesday that they were seriously considering throwing their hats into the special election.

“I’ve always had a long-standing interest in serving in Congress when the time is right,” Frankel said, adding she is not sure if now is the time.

“I’m considering it,” said Ritter, who worked with Wexler on the Obama campaign in Florida. Ritter said she plans to make her decision by the middle of next week.

But while others were content to dip their toe in the water Wednesday, former Broward County Commissioner Ben Graber (D) announced that he was definitely running in the special election.

Graber came in third place with 21 percent in the 1996 primary that Wexler ended up winning. He ran for the seat again last year as a no party candidate and took just 7 percent in the general election.

In his announcement Wednesday, Graber, an ob-gyn, focused on his medical background.

Graber “is a known expert on Health Care reform and successfully sponsored into law the Florida Health Reform Act of 1993 and 1996,” his announcement said.

Businessman Jose Ruiz is a conservative Democrat who was already in the 19th district race before Wexler announced his resignation.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) has not set a date for the special election in the 19th district, but Wexler is set to begin his new job as president of the nonprofit Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation on Jan. 2.

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