The Washington Times - March 21, 2011, 07:22PM

The 2012 congressional elections are 19 months away, but already Rep. Allen West has two Democratic challengers.

On Monday, Democratic West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel announced she will run for the seat Mr. West captured less than five months ago. She joins Patrick Murphy, a Fort Lauderdale businessman who announced his intention to seek the seat earlier this month.


Ms. Frankel, a longtime fixture in Palm Beach County politics who is stepping down as mayor at the end of the month due to term limits, is considered the much stronger challenger of the pair. She served 14 years in the Florida House before becoming mayor in 2003. 

Ms. Frankel, in her statement announcing her candidacy, portrayed Mr. West — a favorite of the tea party movement — as being too partisan and beholden only to his conservative constituents.

“My interest is in the people of South Florida. We need policies that create jobs, not cut them,” she said.

“I am not running for Congress to win favor with the Washington extremists and I am not motivated the same tired partisan fights,” she said. “I believe it’s about time we put the interests of our local economy and families first. This is not about scoring points on cable news shows or making partisan speeches across the country. This is about making South Florida a better place to live for all of our citizens, not just those with the same political affiliation.”

There also has been speculation that former Democratic Rep. Ron Klein, who Mr. West beat in November by 8 percent points, may join the race.