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By setting special election date in April, Charlie Crist complicates chances of health care reform passing

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Interesting point from Anthony Man: U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, resigned from his Broward-Palm Beach County congressional seat, effective Jan. 3. When he announced his decision in October, he’d hoped that sticking around until the beginning of the year would mean health care legislation would be done and signed into law by the president.

But, as everyone knows, that debate bogged down and Wexler – a certain “yes” on health care overhaul – is gone.

Enter Gov. Charlie Crist. He set the dates for the special primary (Feb. 2) and the special general election (April 13) to fill the Wexler seat. The district is so overwhelmingly Democratic that even many Republicans privately concede that the Democratic candidate is the overwhelming favorite to win.

But that Democratic candidate, state Sen. Ted Deutch, is still in Tallahassee because Crist set the general special election for April. And that means Deutch – assuming he’s the ultimate winner – isn’t in Washington now to vote in favor of the Democrats’ health care plan.

The dates for a special election are entirely up to the governor. Once he sets them, other provisions in state law – such as early voting dates – are plugged in, said Jennifer Krell Davis, spokeswoman for the Florida Secretary of State’s Office.

Crist couldn’t have known that the timing would prove so significant to health care overhaul – something fought intensely by Republicans and championed by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders.

When Crist set the special election dates, political insiders figured the major political implication would have been taking Deutch away from the Florida Senate during the final days of the spring legislative session, which ends April 30. Full story here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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