The competitive composition of Florida's 13th District makes this race fascinating, but it's also the first big contest on the calendar for 2014. This special election will serve as a test balloon for the parties to check their messaging with a split electorate months ahead of Election Day.
Longtime Rep. C.W. Bill Young's death has spurred the first competitive race for the western Florida district in a few decades. Young carried the district easily, but President Barack Obama narrowly won the seat with 50 percent in 2012.
Two Republicans are running in the Jan. 14 primary: lobbyist David Jolly, a former Young aide, and state Rep. Kathleen Peters. The primary has split Young's family, with the late congressman's son backing Peters and his wife supporting Jolly. It's also a unique matchup because the two Republicans do not fit the tea-party-vs.-establishment narrative that's dominated most high-profile GOP primaries in recent cycles.
The GOP nominee will face former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who lost a bid for governor in 2010 by a slim margin. She's well known throughout the state as a result, although she lived outside the district lines at the start of the special election.
There have been several special elections this cycle, but this marks the truly competitive contest. No matter who wins the March 11 contest, there will likely be a second competitive race for a full term on Election Day in November.
The race is rated Tossup by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Editor’s note: Not all congressional races are created equal, and Roll Call’s politics desk admits to playing favorites. We’re shining a spotlight on our 12 most fascinating races through the new year in no particular order.
Check out the rest of Roll Call’s most fascinating races of 2014: Arizona’s 2nd District, California’s 17th District, California’s 31st District, Illinois’ 13th District, Pennsylvania’s 13th District, West Virginia’s 2nd District, Alaska Senate, Arkansas Senate, North Carolina Senate, Kentucky Senate, and Mississippi Senate.