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. Just A thought

    It looks like a Republican win despite the so-called "Tea Party" schism that liberal media likes to keep chanting. The schism is just a bunch of Libertarians college kids, who do not represent a majority of Americans or the Republican party.

    There is a reason why the Tea Party will never successfully split from the GOP, no matter how much they disagree with the old guard or internal policies. There's still too much overlap among concerns and opinions. However, those Tea Partiers with Libertarian leanings, who wanted to split and voted against Republican, probably should see now how futile their efforts are. Even if you pull 8% out from Republican candidate, we will win with the majority of moderates and businesses against obamacare backing us.

    To the Liberals, let's face it, Obamacare was a disaster on your side. Most of you guys don't even like it, but are only swallowing it, because a majority of the country agrees with us that Single Payer system should not come in.

    If it weren't for the shortsighted tea party congressmen like Sen. Ted Cruz, the country would not even be debating on which party is better at leading. The economic downturn happened, because people were too greedy and the system was filled with fraud, not because Republicans magically pulled the switch or deregulation just caused everything to fall apart.

    Sure, Pres. Bush wasted money on a lot of things and probably made the worst mockery of the executive authority by championing TARP and bank bailouts. However, it is 6 years later and we're about $5 trillion dollars deeper in the hole.

    March 11, 2014 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  2. poseidon

    Too bad libs. Another chip away at the tower of O-Care!

    March 11, 2014 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  3. ChrisM

    Its a republican district. Why would anyone think a republican would not win

    March 11, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  4. mykpfsu

    Libertarian took almost 5%? Means without him Jolly wins by 7. Going by the dem response, they're already scared. Quick Barry, bust out another delay!

    March 11, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  5. Thomas Cuevas

    Is this is suppose to be good ?

    March 11, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  6. Jane

    This is not a good sign to lose a seat in a district Obama won twice.. Dems are going to have a bad Nov..

    March 11, 2014 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  7. dejavu65

    Those folks in Florida are really naive....I am not suprised if anything happens in that state with the Laws they have and how many people have gotten away with murder there?? Zim , Casey Anthony and on and on....They need an IQ check in that state!

    March 11, 2014 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  8. Liz the First

    What the heck is wrong with Florida? i guess maybe when Miami is underwater, it'll dawn on them how bad it is to vote republican!

    March 11, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  9. Chris-E...al

    Lie some more dims ! See how it works out 4 you bud . A man is no better than his word . Its still true ! YOU cant never *#@?! that or change that .

    March 11, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Let it begin.

    March 11, 2014 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  11. shehar39

    Well, Obama won this district both Terms.. So this is a big victory

    March 11, 2014 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  12. shehar39

    Alex Sink's name recognition is off the charts. Had it not been for Ex Governor Charlie Christ running she was sure to be the next Democrat nominee for Governor. I know who she is and have heard here name for years. This other guy is a no name. And according to a post below Sink out spent him three to one which also does not surprise me.

    So if your republican or a conservative or a libertarian this is really good news. If your a democrat......wow what do you do. They're gonna have to find a lot of money and play really dirty. Look for the accusations to be off the charts this next go around.

    March 11, 2014 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  13. badtobone

    This is what 2014 and 2016 will look like.

    March 11, 2014 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  14. OrmondGeorge

    OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG – A Republican won an election in a Red state
    This means Democrats are DOOMED in the midterms – OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG

    NOT

    March 11, 2014 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  15. muarice black

    Good thing AL Sharpless and Jessie Jackscon were there to witness how ineffective they were.

    March 11, 2014 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  16. phil buzter

    There are a lot of interesting things about this race, though perhaps one of the most overlooked is that this district is heavily senior citizen, most of whom do not have a direct stake in Obamacare since they are most likely on Medicare. Why is that significant? Because without a dog in the Obamacare fight they're in a better position to look at the value of Obamacare from a more neutral position, and it's pretty obvious that the majority of them turned thumbs down. A majority of them saw Obamacare as an extremely poorly thought-out program which (a) busts jobs, (b) increases the overall cost of health care when you add in BOTH the premiums and outrageously high deductibles and (c) turns the control of health care over to the federal government, which they saw as a direct negative effect on the quality of health care.

    As for Alex Sink, I think she was hurt very badly by her carpetbagging. Voters knew she lived across the bay and had only taken an apartment in Pinellas County in order to get on the ballot. Well, she can now cancel the lease and go home, where her precious illegal immigrants are waiting to clean her house and do her laundry.

    She and the Democrats aren't the only losers here. The Tampa Bay Times, that bastion of fringe-lunatic liberal ideology, disgraced itself in this campaign with a complete lack of journalistic integrity.

    March 11, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  17. Smitty

    Sink is sunk. Obumble care in action. Was a man Schultz, Clinton and Obumbles himself wanted this one. Let the spin begin.

    March 11, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  18. Dennis in Los Angeles

    And the steamroller begins in Florida. See ya later Harry.

    March 11, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  19. Bazinga

    Great job all you morons that voted for the independent. Did you get what you wanted? Before you vote for someone, do you check the polls since you basically just wasted your time and your vote?

    March 11, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  20. John M

    The money is out of control but no cares. Eh why should I?

    March 11, 2014 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  21. Yeah Right

    REpublican keeps seat that has been Republican for 40 years...in a district GOP leaning. In other news...water is wet.

    March 11, 2014 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  22. fhelms

    This really Sinks for the Dems!

    March 11, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  23. TheSadTruth

    Of course the GOP retained that seat. Intelligence just doesn't suddenly break out in a state like Florida.

    March 11, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  24. Dave

    Certainly hope this is the beginning of things to come. Maybe even liberals are finally waking up.

    March 11, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  25. Cr@ckerjack

    The GOP is doomed, just like their old, tired and failed ideology.

    March 11, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
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