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.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker']

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. Gurgyl

    Very pathetic idiots that collect GI money of 200/ a month. Do these know this nation? War mongrels and loots.

    March 12, 2014 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  2. Bob

    If this election was all about Obamacare, wouldn't you think the gap would be wider between Jolly and Sink. Surely the GOP has convinced Florida voters that Obamacare is so bad that they'd win by a landslide. Both the Democrat and Republican can't even break 50%. This shows that the divide between Americans is still pretty bad. But the Republicans are still not offering Americans a healthcare alternative. I guess almost 50% of Floridians are still snowed by the GOP.

    March 12, 2014 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  3. Dennis

    Good start.... The leftists must be defeated to get this country on the right track... We also need to throw out some repubs who have been there for decades....They are corrupt as well

    March 12, 2014 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  4. Enough is Enough

    Yup a Republican district that voted for Obama twice.....nice try Dem's....

    March 12, 2014 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  5. MillerBeer

    America is DONE with Democratic Liberal Socialists.

    March 12, 2014 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  6. scott

    A sign of hope.., some day soon, with a pen and a phone, a future GOP president will remove all the nonsense that has been forced upon Americans. The day is coming soon.

    March 12, 2014 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  7. Gerri

    Yawn! ZZZZZZ....... Look you tea party types, this election means nothing.

    March 12, 2014 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  8. max099

    This is the beginning of a big sweep for the republicans in November including gaining a sixty seat majority in the Senate. After the remaining democrats sort through the debris following this upcoming debacle they will join with the republicans to impeach Obama and end this wild experiment of embracing European Socialism.

    March 12, 2014 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  9. george

    According to most of the comments I read on the cnn site people that voted for Jolly must be racist. The reasoning is that he probably does not agree with obandons ideology.

    March 12, 2014 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  10. Orville Ficken

    WOW! CNN buried this story! It does not look good for the Dems in November, LOL!!!!!!!

    March 12, 2014 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  11. Rick

    Funny how this race had 12 million spent on it and democrats outspent republicans. The clintons were brought in to help sell sink and they still lost in a district that obama won in both 2008 and 2012. Funny how CNN does not even put this on the front page on the night of or the day after the election. You can bet the bank that if sink had won then it would be the lead story. Yet you must go to the political section to find this story as CNN does not think it is worthy for the main web page. "5 things to start your day" is one of the front page lead stories along with "justin bieber caught on security camera." CNNs bias is so blatant it is hilarious.

    March 12, 2014 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  12. rob

    Special elections generally have low turnout so even though Jolly won it was by a slim margin and I think still makes the district very much in play for the midterms when more turnout is expected.

    Seniors are so easily misled its almost laughable. Jolly was running ads about the $700 million taken out of Medicare that was widely proved to be misleading during the 2012 election because it didn't touch actual benefits. Yet they still use it because it sounds scary and Fox News likes to perpetuate the lies.

    Oh well.

    March 12, 2014 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  13. Chris

    Funny, this is not a top story. The winning candidate won on getting rid of Obamacare, CNN is trying to bury it!

    March 12, 2014 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  14. Gurgyl

    Just narrow by old idiotic coots that live off of SS, Medicare. In fact they benefit From ACA Law.

    March 12, 2014 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  15. Lindsey

    If the Dems couldn't win this race with the well funded and large name ID that Alex Sink has, then I think they are in trouble this year. Sink is known as a conservative Democrat and should have won this race easily! A lot of Dems could lose seats in Florida and certainly, Rick Scott will be a shoo-in for re-election as governor!

    March 12, 2014 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  16. fred

    Good work CNN. Way to bury this story simply because the Democrat lost. Bet it would be front page had she won.

    March 12, 2014 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  17. Marsha Smith


    March 12, 2014 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  18. Bob C.

    Gotta love the Dems putting on a brave face when the bell is tolling for them. Next comes the Senate in November. After that, the Presidency in 2016. Obama has done more for the cause of the GOP in the last 5 years than any other Democratic president since Carter; he should be congratulated.

    March 12, 2014 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  19. Christian Grey

    This is a big story on Public Radio and on Fox but here at CNN...not so and they have soundOff which is a joke. LMAO CNN

    March 12, 2014 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  20. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    "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.
    Wrong! This was no referendum on Obamacare here. This is a traditionally republican district. A 4,000 vote margin isn't huge. If the independent wasn't in the race, Sink may have pulled it off.

    March 12, 2014 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  21. miscreantsall

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


    I guess there were not enough Puerto Ricans to offset the stanch of red state thinking?


    March 12, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  22. Fair is Fair

    Given, this seat has been held by a Republican for many years.

    Also given:

    – Obama won this district in the past 2 presidential elections
    – Alex Sink won this district in her gubenetorial run
    – Jolly won this race with a major theme of discrediting Obamacare
    – Alex Sink lost this race with a major theme of defending Obamacare

    Any questions? Yeah, yeah... gerrymandering... yawn...

    March 12, 2014 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  23. joke

    Sign of things to come for the Democrats – Obamacare is hated....

    March 12, 2014 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  24. Mr. Volvo

    Oh no! Sink only wanted to do good and help those poor people who can't afford medical care! Why did all those older people, the ones who need medical care the most, fall for the republican lies? This is baffling!! 🙁

    March 12, 2014 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  25. kurt

    Just a point... but Bill Young won this seat with a margin over 15%. Now, the GOP wins it with just under 2%. Even if you assume the Libertarian votes would have all gone to him if he weren't present, you're still talking about a 7% win.

    Is this necessarily a positive sign for the GOP? All of their focus on Obamacare... and an area where the seat has been GOP held for what... 40+ years? Is a win by single digits really a sign that Obamacare is a winning issue for the GOP?

    The number on the district has changed several times, but Bill Young has held it since 1970 and the most any challenger ever got on him was the 39% that Jessica Ehrlich had last year. I don't really see these results as a great sign for the GOP. Better then losing the seat obviously, but the district is still sliding away from them.

    GOP won by 20% in 2008, 30% in 2010, 15% in 2012 and 2% today.

    March 12, 2014 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16