Alex Sink puts House seat in play for Dems

Alex Sink, the 2010 Democratic candidate for governor in Florida, announced Wednesday she's running for the House seat vacated with this month's death of Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.).

Sink's bid gives Democrats a serious shot at picking up a seat that had remained elusive for the entirety of Young's decades-long tenure as representative of Florida's 13th District.

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But it also could spark tensions within the party.

Sink enters the race as the top Democratic contender — she lost her gubernatorial bid by fewer than 62,000 votes to Republican Rick Scott — but will face Jessica Ehrlich in the Democratic primary.

EMILY's List, an influential group that works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, has already highlighted Ehrlich's campaign, naming the St. Petersburg lawyer "On the List," a designation for top recruits.

But the group also backed Sink when she ran against Scott and might face pressure to work on her behalf now that she's in the race.

A strategist with EMILY's List indicated the group was still evaluating candidates in the race and has yet to make an endorsement.

Sink, Florida's former chief financial officer, described herself as a problem solver in a statement announcing her candidacy.

"I never let politics, finger-pointing or name-calling stand in the way of getting results for the people I represent, and it’s these results-oriented values that I want to bring to Washington. For the sake of our economy, our businesses and our families, we have to restore problem-solving leadership," she said.

In a statement, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) trumpeted Sink as having "exactly the values and skills which are so missing from the dysfunctional Congress in Washington."

“Alex Sink’s results-oriented approach, business background and deep commitment to solving problems would help change the way Washington does business so that we can work together on creating jobs," he said in a statement.

Young held the Florida district for more than four decades, and he was the GOP's longest-serving House member. His death opens up a competitive district and has inspired a wide range of Republicans to look at running as well. 

On day one of her candidacy, Sink was already under attack from Republicans.

The National Republican Congressional Committee launched a stand-alone site and targeted search ads highlighting her time as Florida's CFO.

The GOP committee alleged she "wasted [Floridians'] money with no remorse."



“How can Florida families trust Alex Sink in Washington when she wasted their money at home with no remorse? After wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars as the Chief Financial Officer for Florida through risky investments and losing billions through Florida’s state pension fund, it’s clear that Sink has no problem hurting Florida seniors and families.

The truth of the matter is, Floridians can’t trust Alex Sink’s poor judgment in Congress," said NRCC spokeswoman Katie Prill. 



NRCC Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) also suggested on MSNBC on Tuesday that Sink, who is moving back into the district from her current home 45 minutes away to run, would be vulnerable to carpetbagger attacks.



"Their candidate, Alex Sink, has to move in from another city to even run in this district, and she couldn't get elected governor," he said. "I think you'll find she's not compatible in this district, although she'll start with high name ID."

— This piece was updated at 2:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.