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.

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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. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    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.
    ----------------------
    She's been pretty busy lately. I'd hope that she'd take a rain check, though. She has also admitted in the past to not being a political historian, but I still hope she takes you up on it. I'd bet $10,000 Romney bucks that it's a draw after several rounds.

    March 12, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. Sniffit

    "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."

    Now now, RTP, you and I both know that elections are "referendums" when the GOP/Teatrolls win and "the result of voter fraud" when they lose. They've spent the past 6+ years behaving as if Obama didn't win the WH in 2008 and 2012. It's not at all surprising that they think Obama's re-election and the Senate remaining in Dem control in 2012 has nothing to do with anything, but that one small special election in a conservative district in the middle of FL has magically pervasive global significance all throughout Amurikan politics.

    March 12, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  3. Fair is Fair

    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.
    -------
    What part of "trending" democrat don't you understand, Kurt?

    March 12, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  4. Sniffit

    "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."

    What's more, the "cuts" you refer to are in terms of provider reimbursement rates, so keep that in mind as we watch the GOP/Teatrolls THIS WEEK as they try to hold the Medicare "doctor fix" hostage in an attempt to force more dilatory and deleterious changes upon the ACA. They will lose that fight, but the point remains: The GOP/Teatrolls are perfectly happy to threaten providers and their reimbursement rates whenever they can...and they no doubt hope that killing the "doc fix" would cause all sorts of problems that they could then dishonestly blame on the ACA.

    March 12, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  5. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    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.
    --------
    She's been pretty busy lately. I'd hope that she'd take a rain check, though. She has also admitted in the past to not being a political historian, but I still hope she takes you up on it. I'd bet $10,000 Romney bucks that it's a draw after several rounds.
    --------
    Wager accepted.

    March 12, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. "Swing" district? False.

    How is a district that has been reliably Republican for decades a "swing" district? The headline should be that the GOP nearly lost a deeply conservative district to a Democrat in a low Democrat turnout election. The fact that she was within 1.9% of winning a heavily Conservative district should indeed give you an "idea" as to how utterly out of touch the Republican party has become.

    March 12, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. Sniffit

    Moreover, what CNN isn't telling you as they try to sell this ridiculous "litmus test comes out bad for the Dems" narrative is that this extremely close result in this election is the closest a Dem has gotten to taking the seat since 2006, when Jennings lost by 0.16% to Vern Buchanan. All the elections in between have been hands-down runaways for the GOP/Teatroll candidate, at approximately 18%, 37% and 15% spreads. And yet Sink came within 1.9%. THAT is the news here: something has occurred in the district's thinking to close the gap the GOP enjoyed for the past 8 years.

    March 12, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. Fair is Fair

    Sniffit

    "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."

    What's more, the "cuts" you refer to are in terms of provider reimbursement rates, so keep that in mind as we watch the GOP/Teatrolls THIS WEEK as they try to hold the Medicare "doctor fix" hostage in an attempt to force more dilatory and deleterious changes upon the ACA. They will lose that fight, but the point remains: The GOP/Teatrolls are perfectly happy to threaten providers and their reimbursement rates whenever they can...and they no doubt hope that killing the "doc fix" would cause all sorts of problems that they could then dishonestly blame on the ACA.
    ------–
    Awwww... Sniffit.... do you REALLY believe that the provider reimbursement rates under plans available under the ACA won't negatively affect the provider participation under plans under the ACA? Really?

    March 12, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  9. Voxpaladin

    Key point is being missed here. A majority voted AGAINST the "winner". Hardly a mandate. He will not win reelection come November when informed voter participation is higher.

    March 12, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    -Sniffit

    "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."

    Now now, RTP, you and I both know that elections are "referendums" when the GOP/Teatrolls win and "the result of voter fraud" when they lose. They've spent the past 6+ years behaving as if Obama didn't win the WH in 2008 and 2012. It's not at all surprising that they think Obama's re-election and the Senate remaining in Dem control in 2012 has nothing to do with anything, but that one small special election in a conservative district in the middle of FL has magically pervasive global significance all throughout Amurikan politics.
    **************
    As I recall, they acted the same way during the Clinton years as well, so I guess it has more to do with the idea that they feel they are entitled to the WH, and entitled to control of the House and Senate because they can't fathom why anyone would not vote for them. Of course, when it does not happen, they look for conspiracies, for systematic voter fraud by people who are not citizens, and the fact that the electorate has been bought or brainwashed by a nefarious and evil Press that ask such horrible questions like what newspapers they read, etc. In teh case of this district, they voted for a man who has been a Washington lobbyist and a Congressional Aide: does that sound like a man of the people, an outsider who brings Main Street to Capital Hill? Nope.

    March 12, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. Sniffit

    "Awwww... Sniffit.... do you REALLY believe that the provider reimbursement rates under plans available under the ACA won't negatively affect the provider participation under plans under the ACA? Really?"

    Please point to where I said they wouldn't. It is expected/anticipated that some providers will turn their noses up at it and stop providing services to certain cohorts. All of that is baked into the projections provided by Kaiser, CBO, the administration, etc., that you promptly turn around and refuse to believe because they're still positive projections and they don't fit your demagoguery narrative of "DOOOM DOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!"

    March 12, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. Sniffit

    "Awwww... Sniffit.... do you REALLY believe that the provider reimbursement rates under plans available under the ACA won't negatively affect the provider participation under plans under the ACA? Really?

    And let me stress again. POINT TO WHERE I SAID THAT. You can't. Because I didn't. Learn to reading comprehension.

    March 12, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  13. Gurgyl

    That guy won with just bare minimum. 3 thousand votes for house in Retired Florida community no big deal. It is just assessing while Mittens did second debate. Ha!!! GOP lose like crazy dogs in Nov. elections. Nothing hampers.

    March 12, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  14. Fair is Fair

    Sniffit

    "Awwww... Sniffit.... do you REALLY believe that the provider reimbursement rates under plans available under the ACA won't negatively affect the provider participation under plans under the ACA? Really?

    And let me stress again. POINT TO WHERE I SAID THAT. You can't. Because I didn't. Learn to reading comprehension.
    -------–
    Cute. Lower participation rate, under a free market model, means fewer providers (supply) versus increased demand (customers), which inevitably leads to increased cost. Learn Economics 101, counselor.

    March 12, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. kurt

    "What part of "trending" democrat don't you understand, Kurt?"

    Yes... the trend continued. How is that good news for the GOP?

    I understand they were able to hold on to the seat and that's better then the alternative, but there's no evidence that the district's slide toward the democrat camp was in any way reversed or even halted.

    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%

    The seat has been in Republican hands for over 40 years. It's certainly NOT a bellweather district... because it never changes hands. It's flat GOP for every house election since 1966. It's a fading GOP district that faded some more but not enough to give it to the democrats. How is that useful for predictive purposes?

    March 12, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. kurt

    "Awwww... Sniffit.... do you REALLY believe that the provider reimbursement rates under plans available under the ACA won't negatively affect the provider participation under plans under the ACA? Really?"

    Yes, it might. Probably not as much as you think.... but it will likely have some impact.

    BUT... having 10% less participation by doctors doesn't really have a huge impact on those recieving care. They'll have to choose a new physician if the doctor they frequent opts out. And that will be very annoying (I've dealt with it when a doctor opted out of one of the private plans I was on in the past as well as when I've switched insurances and my doctor didn't take the new one).

    But it didn't cost me more money. It was just annoying.

    Many of the comments are about how "cash strapped seniors can't afford the cuts"... and that's simply a falsehood. Seniors won't pay any more for their coverage. They may have a hassle switching to a new doctor, but that's not the same thing as having to pay more money.

    March 12, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  17. Joi Gibson

    This is surely a disappointment, but let us not be discouraged. She narrowly lost, so there is always hope. My concern is that Democrats can be pretty wimpy at times; running away from the ACA shows no spine and that can translate to the very supporters we need to get out and vote.

    March 12, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. kurt

    "Cute. Lower participation rate, under a free market model, means fewer providers (supply) versus increased demand (customers), which inevitably leads to increased cost. Learn Economics 101, counselor."

    Not how economics works I'm afraid (and I recieved a minor in economics way back in my college days).

    You have your variables messed up. The reimbursement rate is fixed in the equation... it's what the government will pay providers. The variables that change are:

    1. # of providers who accept the insurance.
    2. # of people with the insurance
    3. Time those with the insurance have to wait to be seen.

    So the wait times may go up. And those with medicare advantage may switch to "regular" medicare or a different medicare advantage provider that is accepted by more (often insurers FORCE their providers into an all or nothing choice... either take all Blue Cross plans including their medicare advantage plan, or none... so they get higher acceptance on their less desirable plans)

    But the price is set by statute. The amount they pay will only go up if lawmakers let it.

    March 12, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  19. Rudy NYC

    "The seat has been in Republican hands for over 40 years. It's certainly NOT a bellweather district... because it never changes hands. It's flat GOP for every house election since 1966. It's a fading GOP district that faded some more but not enough to give it to the democrats. How is that useful for predictive purposes?"
    -----------------------------
    It's a bellwether district and a predictor of the midterm elections because Republicans said so. Surprised?

    March 12, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. tom l

    Sniffit–Bush was a liar. You're right. But Obama is also a liar. Why do you even choose sides anymore? One party isn't better than the other! They're BOTH destroying our country. You're treating politics like a spectator sport with "hooray for our side" and then you hurl a ton of insults at the other. When will people WAKE UP?

    ====

    Some guy made this comment on another thread and I thought it was so good that I had to repost. Especially the part about treating politics like a spectator sport. It's very true.

    When the Virginia election went the dems way, they shouted from the rooftops and the repubs talked about why they didn't win and why it wasn't that big of a deal. Now that the repub has won, the repubs shout from the rooftops and the dems talk about why they didn't win and it wasn't that big of a deal. It's very similar in many ways.

    March 12, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    tom l posted:

    When the Virginia election went the dems way, they shouted from the rooftops and the repubs talked about why they didn't win and why it wasn't that big of a deal. Now that the repub has won, the repubs shout from the rooftops and the dems talk about why they didn't win and it wasn't that big of a deal. It's very similar in many ways.
    ---------------------–
    Let's ignore the fact that *state* of Virginia is a swing state, and FL-13 is not a swing district when it comes to voting for a representative to Congress. They have voted the same way for decades. Nothing has really changed, except for the margin of victories, which have been narrowing in recent House contests.

    March 12, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  22. CryBabies

    Just a wake up call. Though I do like the fact that this was Nancy's gal.

    March 12, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  23. Fair is Fair

    "So the wait times may go up. And those with medicare advantage may switch to "regular" medicare or a different medicare advantage provider that is accepted by more (often insurers FORCE their providers into an all or nothing choice... either take all Blue Cross plans including their medicare advantage plan, or none... so they get higher acceptance on their less desirable plans)

    But the price is set by statute. The amount they pay will only go up if lawmakers let it."
    -------–
    If you like your plan, you can keep it. Period. If you like your doctor, you can keep him (her). Period.

    March 12, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  24. kurt

    "When the Virginia election went the dems way, they shouted from the rooftops and the repubs talked about why they didn't win and why it wasn't that big of a deal. Now that the repub has won, the repubs shout from the rooftops and the dems talk about why they didn't win and it wasn't that big of a deal. It's very similar in many ways."

    The governorship of the state of Virginia has been a toss-up.

    70-82 – GOP
    82-94 – Democrat
    94-02 – GOP
    02-10 – Democrat
    10-14 – GOP
    14-now = Democrat

    Here's the same chart for this particular house district
    1970-now = GOP

    See the difference?

    March 12, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. tom l

    Rudy,
    Did you ever see the Eddie Murphy movie "The Dostonguished Gentleman"? It's about a congressman who has been in office for years and dies and Eddie Murphy wins that same election just because he has the same name. People continue to vote again and again for their congressman. Bill Young HAD that name recognition and that's probably why he continued to win. Jolly was no supposed to win. What's so ironic is that you have "chosen" to ignore what might be more important stats. Don't you think it's highly relevant that Sunk won that exact same district when she ran for governor! Don't you think it's highly relevant that Obama won that exact same district in 2008 and 2012? All your post has done is proven my point. Your team lost so you have to justify it somehow and someway.

    March 12, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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