For those of us who follow congressional races for a living, Rep. C.W. Bill Young retirement rumors had become a running joke.
But even a broken clock is right twice a day, and talk of a Young retirement finally proved right this time. The Florida Republican’s decision to not seek re-election creates an open seat opportunity for Democrats in Florida’s 13th District.
Fundamentally, the Pinellas County district is competitive. But Young, the longest-serving Republican in the House, never had much trouble winning re-election and we had the district rated as Safe Republican once again.
Because the seat hasn’t been open since Richard Nixon was president, it’s safe to say that this is uncharted water for the region. Aspiring congressional candidates have lived and died while waiting for an open seat. And it is too early to tell who will run for each party this time.
But even though the candidate fields are a long way from being solidified, the nature of the district warrants a Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating change to Pure Tossup, absent the incumbent.
Barack Obama carried the district with 50 percent in 2012 and 51 percent in 2008, mirroring his statewide total each time. President George W. Bush carried the district with 51 percent in his 2004 re-election race. Democrats point out that their 2010 gubernatorial nominee, Alex Sink, carried the district with 51 percent in her failed bid — slightly better than her 48 percent statewide showing.
It almost goes without saying, but this is the type of seat and race Democrats have to win in order to have any chance of gaining the 17 seats they need in 2014 to get back to the majority.