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. BO


    March 12, 2014 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  2. colin in Florida

    I live in this district, and it was known to be a close race.

    Both candidates had strong negatives to overcome. Sink, the loser, did not live in the district until the previous congressman died. After he died, she bought a house in the district (she is pretty well off) so she could run from the district. This makes her a carpetbagger, a nasty name in the South. This did not go over well.

    On the other hand, Jolly, the winner, while he technically lives in the district, is really a Washingtonian, was an assistant to the previous congressman, and before that, a lobbyist, who worked for a group that wanted to privatize social security. And as the article said, we have almost more seniors than any district in the country. His previous job did not go over well.

    They essentially refused to debate each other, despite lots of pressure, both for their own reasons. Did not help either one, though I think it hurt Sink more, as a national debate was all set up and she pulled out just a couple of days before they were to go on air. All we got were TV ads, tons and tons of TV ads.

    SInk was painted as an very liberal democrat, big on Obamacare. While not a big fan of it myself, the Republicans look stupid because they have not really proposed anything better. SInk, a former VP of Bank of America, was a lone democrat in a former republican cabinet in Florida, as state CFO. She later ran for governor and lost. She is older than she looks, 66, which I think hurt her, as the previous congressman died in office from old age, and no one wanted to go through this whole process again! Jolly is only 41, but could have come out of a movie studio casting department as a model of what a congressman is supposed to look like.

    And to top it all off, Jolly now has to run again this fall against whoever the democrats come up with! And some are mentioning Sink all over again!

    Oh joy.

    March 12, 2014 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  3. rockyfort

    Democrats heavily outspent Jolly in this campaign and they laughably complain about millions of dollars from outside groups. Sink should have some name recognition in this district – she carried it in her run for governor. If we could harness Democrat spin, we'd have no energy crisis!

    March 12, 2014 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  4. Name Ota Eifforc

    With all that's going on, you folks are still belly aching on Obamacare? I don't blame you. U never served your country in uniform for 30 years. Your 26-year old daughter never graduated from college with Plus Loan and scrapped for a decent job for over 18 months without success. Well, that's my 26-year old daughter. You guessed it; she has Obamacare!! Siempre Fidelis

    March 12, 2014 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  5. mrmanhattan

    We still allow Florida to vote??

    Why hasn't something been done about that ???????

    March 12, 2014 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  6. AJinFLA

    Everyone having insurance is here to stay get over it.
    Fix the cost of healthcare, that is the problem..... not everyone doing their part and paying their share.

    March 12, 2014 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  7. keith

    No mention that the Dems spent 4 times more money on their candidate; Guess CNN didn't think that fact was significant enough to say.

    March 12, 2014 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  8. loops808

    Lobbyist? Sound like he's qualified for the Obama administration.

    March 12, 2014 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  9. Rogue351

    Hang on to what you have because over the next several years the Tea Party will fall further into radicalization, which is not the answer for America. Any party capable of launching TV and Radio hate campaigns during the entire time a president is in office will do ANYTHING to win that office. Shame on the GOP for siding with these people. The Tea Party focus on a very small part of a much bigger picture. How the Tea Party can side with the GOP when most Tea Party member are dirt poor and and all they want is a gun, while most GOP is only worried about making money, anyway possible it was an unusual fit right from the start. Any party, at this moment in time that bashes the President at every turn, hold up America from moving forward, etc is displaying to the whole world the USA is weak. NOT the message we should bd e sending out with Russia nipping at our heels. Anyone who would put the president in question and ask for impeachment at this time DOES NOT have the USA best interest in mind.

    March 12, 2014 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  10. mrmanhattan

    A Florida "Special" election.

    Is there any other kind ???

    March 12, 2014 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  11. DoseOfReality

    Democrats in swing states and districts that leaned to Obama are officially on notice. Your time is short. There are consequences for standing with an incompetent President.

    March 12, 2014 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  12. jim

    This was a bitter defeat for Debbie Washerman Shultz who hand picked Sink for the job and outspent the GOP winner 4 to 1. Even bringing in Bill Clinton could not overcome the people's dissatisfaction with DC and the Obamacare, IRS , NSA lies.
    GW and the establishment GOP paid the price for their wars and out of control spending and the Democrats will do the same. Enter the Tea Party the pigs in Washington are getting the boot.

    March 12, 2014 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  13. larry

    Let the purge begin. These elections are pay back for Obamacare that Democrats have forced upon us.
    Loss of insurance, higher rates, loss of doctor, higher co-pays,forced coverage for things we don't need, expecting youths to pick up the tab. It is Democrats that did this to us.

    March 12, 2014 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  14. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    That's it ,elect a paid LOBBYiST to congress, now they can work from the inside and the outside!!!! I guess the people of Florida ARE SENILE, after all they elected a CONVICTED FELON Rick Scott to be govenor. The rest of us won't be as foolish in November when we kick Scott and the rest of his crooked legislature out of office. This district gives the rest of Florida a BAD name!!!!!!!

    March 12, 2014 05:29 am at 5:29 am |
  15. yolanda

    @Tampa, you obviously did not vote often enough......

    March 12, 2014 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  16. Jeff

    Thank you Obamacare!!! I can't wait for November.

    March 12, 2014 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  17. smiley jackson

    That object in your rear-view mirror is the group of democrats that blindly voted for Obamacare with no idea what was actually in the bill. That object is actually smaller than it appears. The good news is Obama has extended unemployment benefits that they'll all need soon.

    March 12, 2014 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  18. Fix what's broke...

    Now...Let's continue this trend. We cannot continue the Obama agenda of spend-tax-spend. Give the power back to the states and we the people. Find the common ground and fix what needs it the most. Restore the military cuts and get those leeching off society to actually contribute. Be bring manufacturing too.

    March 12, 2014 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  19. sandy

    This is just the beginning folks. Let the shellacking begin! Ocare and the lies surrounding it did the dems in.

    March 12, 2014 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  20. croaton999

    The GOP can only hope that this kind of thinking continues by the Democrats....."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" Obamacare anyone?

    March 12, 2014 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  21. tayllor1234

    First of many

    March 12, 2014 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  22. keith reiss

    Misleading biased pseudoreporging. The Dems and allies outspent Reps in 13 four go one.

    March 12, 2014 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  23. Nucky Thompson

    This story was buried way down in the Politics section of the CNN home page. You can bet if the Dem had won it would have to the headline story in bold font on the home page.

    Stinikn' liberal media.

    March 12, 2014 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  24. rob

    Just the beginning

    March 12, 2014 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  25. Are you kidding me?

    This is no landslide and it certain was a close race. The GOP should be thanking their lucky Koch fronted stars. I just hope the voters who sat out learn a lesson if they feel the results did not yield who they favor and make it a point to show up at the polls.

    March 12, 2014 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
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