Republicans keep House seat in Florida special election
March 11th, 2014
07:53 PM ET
8 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. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Oh good Lord, Lynda. You're saying that Jolly won because he's a Republican who won a seat that was held by Republicans? My God... how do you explain the Dems takeover of the house in '06, their takeover of the senate in '08, and their loss of the house in '10? Turnover occurs for a reason. Please.
    ---------------------------
    Uh, Fair, that seat didn't turn over in '06, '08, etc. What's your point? It sounds like you just affirmed what Lynda said.

    March 12, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    Bare margin in retired old coot community–still that guy pulled great. Not end of an era–don't fear.

    March 12, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Fair is Fair: "Oh good Lord, Lynda. You're saying that Jolly won because he's a Republican who won a seat that was held by Republicans?"

    Oh good Lord, Fair. I'm saying this isn't the drama you and others want to make it into. Not for me anyway.

    March 12, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Fair is Fair: "Oh good Lord, Lynda. You're saying that Jolly won because he's a Republican who won a seat that was held by Republicans?"

    Oh good Lord, Fair. I'm saying this isn't the drama you and others want to make it into
    -------------------------------------------------
    Good morning to babe!
    Holding your own I see.
    Nicely done.
    They are working me here at the gig, but Im popping in as often as I can...

    March 12, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  5. smith

    Two things happend here. Dems failed to get the youth vote out for Sink and folks upset over the ACA came out and voted.

    March 12, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    The Real Tom Paine

    There was no majority here, so I would not start talking about how Democrats are doomed in November. We had a series of special elections in NY a few years ago to replace local reps, at the height of the debate over the ACA. the Democrats won every one of those races, but still lost 63 seats in the House in 2010.
    ---
    I'm not saying Democrats are "doomed" in November... but to compare a statically clear blue state like NY with a dynamic purple state like FL is disingenuious.
    *********************
    Every one of the districts where those special elections occurred in NY were swing districts, like the one in FL. Upstate NY is purple, unlike what the conservative press would have you believe. It is not disingenuous, its a valid comparison, especially since those districts also have a larger-than-average proportion of retirees as well.

    March 12, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  7. Fair is Fair

    Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Fair is Fair: "Oh good Lord, Lynda. You're saying that Jolly won because he's a Republican who won a seat that was held by Republicans?"

    Oh good Lord, Fair. I'm saying this isn't the drama you and others want to make it into. Not for me anyway.
    --------
    "Not for me, anyway". It's not about you, Lynda. Not in the least. It's about a bellweather example. Whether that carries over to the '14 is up for conjecture.

    March 12, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  8. kurt

    Election results for this particular district (the number changed, but it's remained largely the same area):

    2008 – GOP wins by 20%
    2010 – GOP wins by 30%
    2012 – GOP wins by 15%
    2014 – GOP wins by 2%

    Is this really a good sign for the GOP?

    March 12, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Fair is Fair: "Not for me, anyway". It's not about you, Lynda."

    Then stop trying to make it so. Look, I was one of the first to congratulate your side (and you specifically) the day after the 2010 mid-terms. Your side won. I don't do drama, Fair. You should know that about me by now.

    March 12, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Republicans are going to try to ride this victory as if they have won the war. They should be happy that they didn't lose the seat. The mere fact that they were in danger of losing a seat, which they've held for decades, seems to be either lost or completely ignored. The real news would have been Republicans losing, instead they held onto the seat by the slimmest of margins. This should have been a teachable moment for Republicans to sober up, but it won't be.

    March 12, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  11. tom l

    I think the Medicare Advantage ads that highlighted the planned cuts to the program could have likely played a large role.
    =====

    Take out the "ads" and you've got it. So you're acknowledging that those planned cuts to Medicare Advantage are very real and hit the seniors. This isn't a game. It's real life. Those are real cuts and to the people who can least afford to have that happen. Don't you think that's a bad thing that this program is being cut back?

    March 12, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Fair is Fair: "Oh good Lord, Lynda. You're saying that Jolly won because he's a Republican who won a seat that was held by Republicans?"

    Oh good Lord, Fair. I'm saying this isn't the drama you and others want to make it into. Not for me anyway.
    --–
    "Not for me, anyway". It's not about you, Lynda. Not in the least. It's about a bellweather example. Whether that carries over to the '14 is up for conjecture.
    *****************
    Every time the GOP lost a special election, the GOP downplayed its significance and the Democrats read way too much into it. The idea that this is a bellweather is tempting, but its only March: a lot can happen in 8 months, and the last time the GOP did that they were fitting the White house to accomodate the Romneys. I agree its up for conjecture, so why waste the effort in an exercise in wishful thinking?

    March 12, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  13. Fair is Fair

    The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    The Real Tom Paine

    There was no majority here, so I would not start talking about how Democrats are doomed in November. We had a series of special elections in NY a few years ago to replace local reps, at the height of the debate over the ACA. the Democrats won every one of those races, but still lost 63 seats in the House in 2010.
    -
    I'm not saying Democrats are "doomed" in November... but to compare a statically clear blue state like NY with a dynamic purple state like FL is disingenuious.
    *********************
    Every one of the districts where those special elections occurred in NY were swing districts, like the one in FL. Upstate NY is purple, unlike what the conservative press would have you believe. It is not disingenuous, its a valid comparison, especially since those districts also have a larger-than-average proportion of retirees as well.
    ------
    Again, not saying the dems are "doomed" in November. But to deny the result in a purple district which has voted Dem in the past 2 generals, voted Dem in the gubenetorial, and clearly trended Dem over the last several elections has to open the eyes of even the most partisan commentor.

    March 12, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. kurt

    Of note is the comparison between the last midterm and the current special. 30% to 2%... in less then 4 years. This is a trouble district for the GOP in the near term. 2016 will likely spell the end of the GOP dominance on this seat (since the early 70's).

    March 12, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  15. Marcus (from...?)

    Fair is Fair – You forgot what the residents of Florida told us yesterday, an information easily proven to be true BTW?
    The district was, ehrrr..., 'reconfigured' since last election. You know, that little procedure that rhymes with 'salamander'...

    March 12, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    It's about a bellweather example. Whether that carries over to the '14 is up for conjecture.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Calling it a "bellwether example" is in fact saying that it is a tone setter for future elections, as in the '14, Fair.
    Can't have it both ways.
    Furthermore this is about Lynda. In fact these types of elections are about all of us as once the individual components of the House of Representatives gather and vote as a group those decisions impact all of us.
    This is why folks need to get out and vote during mid-term and special elections and stop waiting for the "big one".

    March 12, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  17. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Dominican mama: "They are working me here at the gig, but Im popping in as often as I can..."

    What with Spring here finally(!) I will be doing the same myself. Raking leaves (again) and getting the garden in
    and, well ... hopefully sitting on the dock. Not to mention getting the new water pump in at the cabin after the sub freeze and high winds blew out the furnace pilot light up there.

    March 12, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  18. Fair is Fair

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    It's about a bellweather example. Whether that carries over to the '14 is up for conjecture.
    -----------------
    Calling it a "bellwether example" is in fact saying that it is a tone setter for future elections, as in the '14, Fair.
    Can't have it both ways.
    Furthermore this is about Lynda. In fact these types of elections are about all of us as once the individual components of the House of Representatives gather and vote as a group those decisions impact all of us.
    This is why folks need to get out and vote during mid-term and special elections and stop waiting for the "big one".
    --------–
    You know, Dominican mama, I'm curious why YOU don't debate me 1-on-1. You always seem to reply to me via a third party. Why is that? Come on... let's get it on.

    March 12, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  19. kurt

    "Take out the "ads" and you've got it. So you're acknowledging that those planned cuts to Medicare Advantage are very real and hit the seniors. This isn't a game. It's real life. Those are real cuts and to the people who can least afford to have that happen. Don't you think that's a bad thing that this program is being cut back?"

    The cuts you are talking about don't impact those who are insured directly. They are cuts to the amount medicare pays out to providers. It could cause some to stop taking their insurance.

    My wife is a medicare/medicaid provider of mental health services. Even with the cuts to medicare, they still pay better then 95% of private insurances (for her services at least). They are a lot more picky with paperwork (fraud prevention) then private insurers, but make up for that with a higher rate of pay. Instead of being 30 dollars an hour higher, they're only about 10 dollars an hour higher now. Keep in mind medicare advantage is PRIVATE insurance... but they payout higher rates for some reason then the same provider purchased privately. I have NO idea why it works that way.

    I have no idea if that's the way it is with other medical services. If others would drop the amount paid down enough that it wouldn't be financially viable to provide services, then perhaps it will cause less choices for seniors using medicare advantage. But there is no additional cost going to the actual people being insured from what I understand.

    I could be wrong though.

    March 12, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    tom l wrote:

    I think the Medicare Advantage ads that highlighted the planned cuts to the program could have likely played a large role.

    Take out the "ads" and you've got it. So you're acknowledging that those planned cuts to Medicare Advantage are very real and hit the seniors. This isn't a game. It's real life. Those are real cuts and to the people who can least afford to have that happen. Don't you think that's a bad thing that this program is being cut back?
    ----------------------------–
    "Take out the "ads" and you've got it"? You're also trying to put words in my mouth yet again. I hope your feelings don't get hurt again when I ignore you and "change the subject." The topic is the money that was spent, and the ads that mislead seniors into thinking that they would be cut off from something. They wouldn't. Cuts affect new enrollees, not existing participants.

    Besides, the Koch ads didn't point out that Republicans plan to make the same cuts under the Ryan Plan. Like I said, the ads were very misleading. Presenting only half truths to hide the whole truth is dishonest.

    March 12, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    The Real Tom Paine

    There was no majority here, so I would not start talking about how Democrats are doomed in November. We had a series of special elections in NY a few years ago to replace local reps, at the height of the debate over the ACA. the Democrats won every one of those races, but still lost 63 seats in the House in 2010.

    I'm not saying Democrats are "doomed" in November... but to compare a statically clear blue state like NY with a dynamic purple state like FL is disingenuious.
    *********************
    Every one of the districts where those special elections occurred in NY were swing districts, like the one in FL. Upstate NY is purple, unlike what the conservative press would have you believe. It is not disingenuous, its a valid comparison, especially since those districts also have a larger-than-average proportion of retirees as well.
    --
    Again, not saying the dems are "doomed" in November. But to deny the result in a purple district which has voted Dem in the past 2 generals, voted Dem in the gubenetorial, and clearly trended Dem over the last several elections has to open the eyes of even the most partisan commentor.
    *****************
    I'm not directing that at you per se, but all this is a win for the GOPa district that has split its votes over the last few years. Don't get yourself too excited is all I'm saying.

    March 12, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  22. Peace

    @ Donna
    You are much concerned with millions Dems has used on this special election? Were you concerned with millions Romney and his fellow millionaires used during 2012 election? Wasn't like throwing sand into the Ocean? Or what they used was not real money? Please tell us.

    March 12, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  23. kurt

    "Again, not saying the dems are "doomed" in November. But to deny the result in a purple district which has voted Dem in the past 2 generals, voted Dem in the gubenetorial, and clearly trended Dem over the last several elections has to open the eyes of even the most partisan commentor."

    2008 – GOP won the seat by 20%
    2010 – GOP won the seat by 30%
    2012 – GOP won the seat by 15%
    2014 – GOP wins the seat by 2%

    I've still yet to hear why a seat that hasn't been held by a democrat in over 40 years is somehow a good predictor of things to come.

    March 12, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  24. Sniffit

    "Take out the "ads" and you've got it. So you're acknowledging that those planned cuts to Medicare Advantage are very real and hit the seniors. This isn't a game. It's real life. Those are real cuts and to the people who can least afford to have that happen. Don't you think that's a bad thing that this program is being cut back?"

    More reality rewrites, tom? The GOP/Teatrolls have voted REPEATEDLY for the EXACT SAME "cuts" to Medicare that are in the ACA as part of their ridiculous plutocrat budget proposals. To any extent that "cuts" to Medicare made any difference in this election, it measures the level of how misinformed FL 13 voters are about what actually differentiates (or doesn't) the parties on the issue. To the extent they blamed one party over the other for them, they haven't the slightest clue what they're talking or VOTING about.

    March 12, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  25. Sniffit

    The seat is up again in November. Let's see what happens then. This was a special election and those almost always have far different turnout than regular mid-terms. This is also a conservative district that has been held by Republicans since 1983 (that was Connie Mack III, various permutations of redistricting notwithstanding). Heck, it's the district that gifted our country with Katherine Harris, who is quite famously the person who helped Dubya get SELECTED in 2000.

    March 12, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16