From NBC's Mark Murray
Florida Rep. Mark Foley (R) has announced that he's resigning from the House, effective today. The motivation: The recent release of personal e-mails he sent to a male teenage page on Capitol Hill. Foley in his statement: "I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent." Foley's district includes Martin County, St. Lucie County, and Palm Beach County. President Bush received 54% there in 2004, and Foley himself was re-elected with 68% that year.
The campaign of Tim Mahoney (D), who is challenging Foley for his seat, says their understanding of state election law is that the GOP can basically choose a replacement for Foley in that his name will stay on the November ballot, but the party will get to decide who receives his votes. So does this sudden shake-up improve Democrats' chances of winning this Republican-leaning seat? It's unclear today, though in the current political climate, any change could wind up having repercussions at the polls. What's for sure is that until now, national Republicans never expected to have to worry about this seat.