Republicans keep House seat in Florida special election
March 11th, 2014
07:53 PM ET
9 years ago

Republicans keep House seat in Florida special election

(CNN) - Republican David Jolly won Tuesday's special election in Florida's 13th Congressional District.

He will fill out the term of his former boss, longtime Republican Rep. Bill Young, who died in October.

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Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink, who conceded the race more than an hour after the polls closed.

The outcome does not change anything for Democrats in their calculus for retaking the House in next November's midterms. They still need to pick up 17 seats.

Political handicappers consider that a tall order, considering the shrinking number of competitive congressional districts nationwide.

Jolly served as a former general counsel for Young and also worked as a lobbyist.

"Tonight brings an end to this election," a victorious Jolly told supporters. "Tomorrow provides the opportunity for us to embark together on a new journey of representation here in Pinellas County."

Sink, the former Florida Chief Financial Officer, narrowly lost the 2010 gubernatorial election to Rick Scott.

She conceded the contest more than an hour after the polls closed, expressing pride in her campaign and thanking volunteers and supporters.

"I have congratulated David Jolly and wish him the best success in representing the voices of Pinellas in Congress," she said.

Florida-13 is a swing district in a swing state. It covers most of Pinellas County between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, including parts of St. Petersburg.

While Young captured 58% of the vote in his 2012 re-election, President Barack Obama narrowly carried the district in his 2008 and 2012 victories.

The district has one of highest concentration of senior voters in the nation.

While the candidates and local matters weighed heavily in the race, Obamacare was also a key issue in the election.

While a contest this far out from the midterms rarely offers a preview of what will actually happen in November, the election was seen by some pundits as a potential bellwether.

There was a massive infusion of outside ad money into the race to try to influence the outcome.

Dueling congressional campaign committees fired off reaction after the results came in with their versions of what Jolly's win means for the midterms.

The National Republican Congressional Committee said the results are referendum on the effects of the Democratic agenda and Obama's health care law, the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are campaigning fiercely against.

"Tonight, one of Nancy Pelosi's most prized candidates was ultimately brought down because of her unwavering support for Obamacare, and that should be a loud warning for other Democrats running coast to coast," said NRCC chairman Greg Walden.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee congratulated Sink's campaign, highlighting her efforts in a historically Republican district and pushed back on the results as a bellwether for the midterm elections.

"Democrats will fight for FL-13 in the midterm when the electorate is far less heavily tilted toward Republicans. Despite those millions from Republican outside groups, they underperformed because the only message they offered voters – repealing the ACA – is out of touch and failed to bring them even close to their historically wide margins," said the group's chairman, Rep. Steve Israel.

CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.

Filed under: Alex Sink • Florida
soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Florida needs to be cut off from the rest of the country!

    March 11, 2014 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  2. Donna

    Just the beginning of the slaughter Democrats.... how many millions did you waste on this one? people are on to the democrat lies and deceit. no amount of money is going to con people into believing them anymore.

    November can't get here soon enough. Minority Leader Reid has a mighty fine ring to it!

    March 11, 2014 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  3. Sam

    Great news, maybe the common sense americans have finally started waking up. Time to take our country back.

    March 11, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. just asking

    alex sink is a loser, again. how many times are the democrats going to run this repeated loser before they realize she can't win? clueless democrats....

    March 11, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. Pander Bear

    It's Florida. What do you want?

    March 11, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  6. t

    .Its Flori-DUH......what do you expect,..............making sense?

    March 11, 2014 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  7. Andrew

    I'm very disappointed in the outcome..

    March 11, 2014 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  8. Cedie

    What do you know, David Jolly sunk Sink!

    March 11, 2014 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  9. Tommy G

    Another leftist Democrat goes down to defeat. It is a good night for our country. The American people are finally starting to wake up.

    March 11, 2014 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  10. QS

    The people of Florida just keep kicking themselves in the as$, don't they?!

    March 11, 2014 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  11. Picklesmcd

    Great, another conservative who wants to teach our children that the earth is 6,000 years old.

    March 11, 2014 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  12. alvin

    a former democratric nominee for governor can't beat a republican lobbyist spells BAD NEWS for democrats in fall congressional elections!

    March 11, 2014 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  13. Donnie the Lion

    Redrawing district lines.....out of fear.

    March 11, 2014 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  14. zipity


    /Nelson Muntz

    March 11, 2014 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  15. HCatty

    Amazing! Not one word of the enormous significance of this from CNN. Obamacare was the KEY issue. Sink was much better known than jolly. Look out, I think I see a Tsunami about to hit in November

    March 11, 2014 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  16. BlackBush (Obama)

    Get ready! Here it comes Dems!!!!

    March 11, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  17. Al-NY,NY

    another T-B obstrutionist in power until November. After that....clarity, not "purity"

    March 11, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  18. Matt

    This was pretty much expected, no?

    March 11, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  19. Will S

    Time for her to give it up. That's two she's lost for the good guys.

    March 11, 2014 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  20. victor

    Way to go Jolly. Sink is a moron and liberal from hell a Pelosi want to be.

    March 11, 2014 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  21. chadsimon13

    And the DEMS look around, thinking to themselves: Selves, WE ARE SCREWED IN NOVEMBER! Sink had an pre-election lead and early voter lead BUT STILL won by a few thousand votes. Even CNN was in the Sink headquarters. The Reason: ObamaCare is a real problem for DEMS and Conservatives come out more on election day. I can't wait to see how the DEMs and CNN will try to spin this!

    March 11, 2014 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  22. Greg

    Former lobbyist then wins a congressional seat, sounds like a perfect match!

    March 11, 2014 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  23. Ivo

    The precursor of what's to come in November nationwide

    March 11, 2014 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  24. Quixote

    Who was the third party spoiler?

    Suppose this is a wake up to what $5 million in outside koch brothers money can buy. The People need to step up the game if we want to prevent the oligarchs from purchasing the entire congress.

    March 11, 2014 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  25. mel

    I guess florida doesn't want any change. Sad to see that happen.

    March 11, 2014 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
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