Four elections in less than a year. That’s what it will take to decide who will serve a full term in the District 13 congressional seat formerly held by C.W. Bill Young for more than four decades.
Gov. Rick Scott worked with Pinellas elections officials to set the only reasonable dates for such a compressed time-frame.
A special primary election Jan. 14 will be followed by a general election March 11 to decide who will serve for less than a year, finishing the term cut short by Young’s death last month.
Five months later, on Aug. 26, a primary will be held, followed by a general election on Nov. 4, 2014.
By law, it takes a special election to fill an unexpired term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Choosing the dates for that election falls to the governor.
Scott made the right call on the dates, giving a respectable amount of time to grieve Young’s death, giving the potential candidates enough time to gather the staff and donations needed to campaign, and giving enough distance from the holidays for voters to focus on this important election.
Additionally, holding the special general election March 11, when other Pinellas communities are scheduled to hold municipal elections, helps with voter turnout and minimizes costs, which the state must pay.
Young’s death was shock, and came during his 42nd year representing Pinellas County in Congress. The rare open congressional seat is drawing national interest.
The list of potential candidates is impressive.
Filling his shoes will be a tall order, and voters will need the next few months to learn about the candidates.
With so much at stake in Washington these days — and looming decisions about immigration and the potential for another government shutdown — the decisions about who represents area residents in Congress seem more important than ever.
The dates set by Scott give enough time for the candidates to make their case, and for voters to make an informed decision.