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Dark Horse Dem Emerges in Race for Martinez Seat

On the Democrat side of the Florida's 2010 U.S. Senate race, the field keeps getting larger, with Congressman Allen Boyd, of Monticello, looking like a contender. Boyd (right) runs with the congressional Blue Dogs -- socially conservative Democrats who walk and talk so much like Republicans, it can be hard to tell the difference. The Blue Dogs increased their numbers in 2006 and 2008, and their presence is going to moderate what looks on paper to be a liberal House of Representatives. But before Boyd plunges in, he'd better make sure there's still water in what's become a crowded pool in the last few days.

Boyd's announcement comes a day after Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink (above), the highest ranking Democrat in the executive branch, sounded like she's warming up to the idea of a Senate run, now that Sen. Mel Martinez won't be running as the incumbent. Other popular names are State Sen. Dan Gelber, U.S. Reps. Ron Klein, and Kathy Castor, whose mother Betty Castor was nudged at the wire by Martinez in 2004. Then again, in public remarks both Castors have thrown their support behind Sink. In fact, Boyd also said he'd be less likely to run if Sink takes her shot.

But a Sink bid doesn't mean all Florida Dems head for the sideline. It's way, way too early to rule out Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, of Weston, no matter what's being said publicly. She's a ferocious campaigner and a prolific fundraiser who has a higher public profile than Sink, as well as closer ties to the Democratic National Committee.

It sure is fun to speculate about Dems right now. But if Jeb Bush or Charlie Crist declare their candidacy -- and clearly, Republican leaders are hellbent on getting one of the two -- this field is going to shrink overnight and the national Democrats may decide to take their campaign dollars and fight in a more winnable contest.

-- Thomas Francis

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Thomas Francis

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