Democrat Jessica Ehrlich dropped out of the race for deceased Rep. Bill Young's (R-Fla.) seat on Wednesday, a decision that paves the way for Alex Sink to nab the party's nomination.
Ehrlich, who launched a failed bid against Young in 2012, entered the race before Young's passing but decided to end her bid after Sink consolidated Democratic support.
Both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and EMILY's List, which had previously flagged Ehrlich's candidacy, recently threw their support behind Sink, the state's former chief financial officer and 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee.
"I want to thank my amazing staff, donors and volunteers for everything they have done for our campaign,” Ehrlich said. “In particular, I would like to thank the hardworking men and women of the labor movement who have supported my fight for Florida’s middle-class families. I also want to thank the voters of Florida’s 13th Congressional District for their continued support. While this is not the result I was hoping for, I remain committed to helping the families of Pinellas County, this state, and this country.”
But Sink thanked Ehrlich "for her willingness to step forward and speak out for Pinellas families" in a subsequent statement, and suggested the two would work together in the future.
“I look forward to working together in the coming months as we continue our campaign to restore the results oriented, problem solving leadership that Pinellas families expect from our representative in Washington," she said.
Young was able to hold Florida's 13th District for more than four decades, despite the fact it went for Obama the past two campaign cycles and has been a repeated Democratic target.
His passing opened a top pickup opportunity for Democrats, who need 17 seats to regain the House majority in 2014.
The Republican field is still in flux. David Jolly, a former Young aide, is running, while Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, former Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard and Safety Harbor Mayor Joseph Ayoub are all looking at the race.
The primary election is scheduled on Jan. 14, with the general on March 11.
--This piece was updated at 12:42 to reflect comment from Sink.