(CNN) - Democrat Ted Deutch won a special election Tuesday for a Florida congressional seat in the nation's first federal election since the passage of the Democrats' health care plan.
Deutch held a sizable lead over Republican Ed Lynch late Tuesday night in the Palm Beach-area 19th District, prompting Lynch to concede.
Deutch had 62 percent of the vote compared to Lynch's 36 percent with 97 percent of the precincts counted, CNN affiliate WFOR reported. The election was to fill the seat of Democrat Robert Wexler, who resigned at the beginning of the year to head up the Center for Middle East Peace
"I have never before felt the way that I feel at this moment," Deutch told his supporters, according to WFOR. "This is a victory for the community and it's a victory about issues."
"We've heard for months that tonight ... is a referendum on health care, it's a referendum on the (Obama) administration, it's a referendum on what direction this country is going," Deutch said. "Let me tell you something, what we learned today is that in Broward County and Palm Beach County, Florida, the Democratic Party is alive and well."
The controversial health care reforms may have played a large role in the election results.
Lynch said he wanted to repeal the new law. The 44-year-old contractor made opposition to President Barack Obama's health care legislation a major part of his campaign. Lynch was also critical of the federal stimulus program, and of the president's handling the war in Iraq. Deutch, also 44, supported the new health care law.
Deutch will serve the remaining months of Wexler's term and will have to run this November for a full term in office.