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. Chris

    Yes Obamacare is that bad…

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

    THANK GOD.

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

    9 million$$ for 8 months..amazing

    March 11, 2014 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  4. Matthew

    Jolly should be in jail for election fraud.

    March 11, 2014 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  5. TexDoc

    Not surprised. There is no way democrats are gaining any seats this year. Obamacare is their mess, and it's not working.

    March 11, 2014 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  6. OldGrunt83

    Many of my liberal colleagues have stated in recent weeks that this election would be a bellwether of things to come in November. Wonder what they will be saying in the morning? DEMAND A RECOUNT?????

    March 11, 2014 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  7. I LOVE OBAMA

    I MEAN EVERYTHING..CNN WON'T MODERATE THAT!!

    March 11, 2014 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  8. christopher.three@gmail.com

    na na na na hey hey hey goodbye

    March 11, 2014 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Start of a tidal wave.

    March 11, 2014 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  10. saddam

    I love CNN

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

    First.

    March 11, 2014 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  12. Chuck

    Yay

    March 11, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  13. Dark Poet

    Well Sink already said that if she lost she wasn't going to stay around and help or try and be there for the citizens who voted for her.

    That alone shows how selfish she is and how many sheep voted for her. I don't like that Jolly won but at least he wasn't going to LEAVE the State if he lost.

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

    So, the 1% bought another election. This guy's family will now get cush lobbying jobs or executive positions with companies who rely on government contracts.

    March 11, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  15. Guest

    It's funny to read the bias in CNN-The last sentence about outside money implies Republican money. It was dem and repub money.

    March 11, 2014 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  16. fr114

    The district has one of highest concentration of senior voters in the nation. need we say anymore

    March 11, 2014 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  17. Jay Gorzy

    ...and according to the number of television commercials I had to watch, the election only cost David Jolly about 35,000 dollars for each vote.

    March 11, 2014 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  18. J. Turner

    The first nail in the coffin for democrats.

    March 11, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  19. JohnSmith

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

    March 11, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  20. lgbpop

    I heard Sink was considered a carpetbagger, which she was and is – but what gets me is how none of the major media questioned her about the state pension funds that went lost/missing during her tenure as chief financial officer for the State of Florida. Combine that fiscal mismanagement with her support of Obamacare, and it would defy rationality why ANYONE would vote for this woman!

    March 11, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  21. Joe College in Florida

    Not too surprising, this is a Republican-leaning district that had elected a GOP congressman to the House for nearly 40 years in a row before the last guy passed away last October. Pundits, media, and other talking heads will try to portray this is as some sort of harbinger of things to come in the fall elections, but it just isn't. It would have taken a lot for this District (FL-13) to swing to Alex Sink and the Democrats. McCain, Bush (both times) won this district. Katherine Harris was elected from this district! It's a GOP stronghold. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.

    March 11, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  22. Tea Leaves of True Green Enviroment

    Too bad a Tea Party candidate wasn't the winner.

    March 11, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  23. terry

    sign of things to come

    March 11, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  24. cindy lou who

    a great win!!!

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

    Just wait til November when democrats lose the senate. This was just a bell weather of things to come and mainly due to the disaster called obamacare.

    March 11, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
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