U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, was instrumental in getting little-known Democrats Ted Deutch and Jeremy Ring elected to the state Senate in 2006.
Now the Wexler proteges could battle each other for their mentor’s congressional seat.
Boca Raton Sen. Deutch and Coral Springs Sen. Ring are among the half dozen or more Democrats who might enter a special election for Wexler’s Palm Beach-Broward congressional seat when Wexler steps down in January to head a Middle East think tank.
Wexler remains close to Deutch and Ring, but a Democratic insider said Wexler is likely to endorse Deutch as his replacement.
Other prominent Democrats eyeing the race include West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, Broward County Mayor Stacy Ritter, former Broward Mayor Ben Graber and former Boca Raton state Rep. Irving Slosberg.
The winner of the Democratic primary will likely claim the seat in a district where Democrats hold more than a 2-to-1 registration edge over Republicans and no GOP candidate has received more than 34.4 percent since 1996.
Primary and general election dates will be set after Gov. Charlie Crist receives a resignation letter from Wexler.
Graber, who got 6.6 percent against Wexler last year as a no-party candidate, announced today he will run as a Democrat in the special election.
Other potential candidates said they were in soul-searching mode.
“I have to talk to my friends and family and see what’s in my heart,” said Frankel.
“I am talking to community members, I am talking to leaders all across my district and most importantly I am talking to my family,” said Deutch, who expects to make an announcement Thursday.
Ring said he is “absolutely investigating it, considering it. I should have a decision this weekend.”
Ritter said she’ll make a decision next week.
With about 71 percent of District 19 voters in Palm Beach County, Broward candidates Ring and Ritter both said they would have to analyze whether multiple Broward candidates would hurt each other and maximize Palm Beach County’s advantage.