Friday, September 29, 2006

Republican Congressman Resigns After Emails To 16 Year Old Are Revealed

Mark Foley (R-Fl) has resigned his seat in Congress just 39 days before the midterm elections. Here's Cilliza in the Washington Post:

Foley has represented the 16th District since 1994 and has regularly been mentioned as a potential candidate for statewide office. He was a candidate for the U.S. Senate briefly in 2003 before dropping out, citing his desire to spend more time with his parents.

His abrupt decision to step down from his seat comes one day after ABC News reported the existence of e-mails sent by Foley last fall to a 16-year-old boy who formerly served as a congressional page. In the messages, Foley reportedly asked the boy what he wanted for his birthday and requested that the boy send a photo of himself to Foley. (The St. Petersburg Times caught up with the boy some time ago but waited to report on it until today.)

Foley's departure is likely to create havoc for Republicans in the district. The biggest question is whether Republicans can replace Foley on the ballot. If not, Democratic candidate Tim Mahoney, who has been running a credible (if longshot) challenge to Foley, will see his chances immediately improve.

The district carries a Republican tilt -- President George W. Bush won it with 54 percent in 2004. But given the controversy and press attention likely to engulf Foley, this seat could well emerge as a late-breaking opportunity for Democrats.

This district had not been considered in play before. Is it now?

UPDATE: Hotline Blog reports that the AP write-up of the story says the GOP can replace Foley on the ballot. That would make a Dem pick-up in the district a lot less likely.

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