Republicans Face Primary in Florida Special Election

Florida state Rep. Kathleen Peters will announce her candidacy Tuesday to replace the late Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young in Congress. She has started to inform sources on Capitol Hill of her intention and is expected to have local officials on hand supporting her bid at her 10 a.m. scheduled announcement. The move sets up a mad dash of a Republican primary with GOP lobbyist David Jolly, lasting through the holiday season until Jan. 14. The winner will likely face off against Democrat Alex Sink on March 11. Both Republicans candidates have strengths and weaknesses. Before his passing, Young designated Jolly as his choice for the seat. Jolly also has the blessing of Young's widow, Beverly. Jolly entered the race weeks ago and has used the time to his advantage. He swiftly put a campaign team in place and as of Nov. 15, he had raised $150,000, according to a campaign spokeswoman. But on the flip side, he is not yet well-known to the voters. Late last week, Florida GOP observers said they believed Jolly was going to cruise to the nomination. But now, some Republicans say, Peters is a serious contender. "It's definitely doable for this to be a real primary," a national GOP operative said. The race will feature a sprint to the primary. Between now and primary Election Day, there will only be about five weeks of campaigning that won't involve a major holiday. Television rates in the expensive Tampa market will jump, thanks to  holiday season advertising. Another holiday factor? A possible emphasis on direct mail, thanks to  seasons greetings cards hitting mailboxes. Both committees are investing enormously in the race. Democratic leaders essentially cleared the field for Sink and are set to host a fundraiser in Washington on her behalf after Thanksgiving. As for the National Republican Congressional Committee, sources confirm that staff is on the ground. The race is rated Tossup by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. Young died last month.