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.

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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. bspurloc

    so sad

    March 11, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  2. D Victory

    Interesting since Democrats spent $3 to every $1 Republicans spent on this campaign. I dislike the way Israel made it sound like Republicans were the only one spending money....

    March 11, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  3. Name

    It is a shame there are so many scared selfish people out there.

    March 11, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  4. Joe College

    Why was my earlier comment deleted? I will re-post again here what I posted earlier here: This district (FL-13, formerly FL-11 I think) has been solidly Republican for 40 years. George W. Bush won the district twice. So did McCain in '08. Heck, this district elected Katherine Harris as well. Any attempt by the media, pundits, Republicans, or anyone else to paint this result as some sort of bell-weather for the fall elections are way, way off. This is a lean-Republican district all the way.

    March 11, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  5. David

    Obamacare alone may have ruined the democrat party for the next 10 years.
    When a country's democrats turn to Socialist democrats, it's time to vote them out to save your country and freedom.

    March 11, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  6. CNeder

    Wow what a huge loss. Who wants to run with OWEbamacare hanging over their heads.

    March 11, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  7. grafixer

    Gerrymandering managed to win this by just under 2%? Yep. This is indeed an example of what will happen across the US. The GOP/TEA gerrymandering is not that thorough. Destructive and damaging? Yes. But the people will prevail. Florida is one of the most CONTROLLED and MANAGED GOP STATES. The rest of America will not fall to such tactics.

    March 11, 2014 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  8. brownbuttonglutton

    Soros unions and pac spent massive amounts of money for the dimwit and couldn't buy the seat. She didn't even face a primary and there was a conservative 3rd parry guy on the ballot. Dimwits are screwed come November. Get ready for "shellacking" 2.0

    March 11, 2014 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  9. Mr Dalloway

    Why Florida will continue to be the laughing stock of America

    March 11, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  10. Sarah/Dumfries,VA

    I am really surprise GOP candidate did not win even 50% of the vote?i thought if they win it will be a big margin because of their hatred for the ACA,it did not happen,Sink did very well & i know she will make it in Nov,or any Dem,willbe able to beat him

    March 11, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |

    Out financed by the Democrats and a major upset by the Republicans. Just a clue of what November will be like.

    March 11, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  12. KellyinBoston

    This is just a pointless article. The district is overwhelmingly senior citizen–The republicans have spent millions lying to the seniors and saying that obamacare will compromise senior citizens' access to healthcare. Meanwhile, the republican in this race only managed to pull out a 1.9% lead. Look, I suspect that the democrats are going to do well in the next general US House election, but lose it by a small margin (republican governors in nearly 30 states in 2010). I also suspect that the senatorial elections (which even out the local-citizen concerns) will reelect a pretty solid democratic Senate majority. Honestly, I just think my fellow seniors need to be reminded that all potential republican presidential candidates want to cut back Medicare and Social Security benefits (see Paul Ryan). People need to watch multiple news media and news outlets (Drudgereport, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Fox) to get the full picture. As my mother always said, "If you believe everything you read, and eat everything you see, you'll get–Dumb and fat."

    March 11, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  13. Andy H.

    If those independent voters had voted dem......

    March 11, 2014 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  14. ioutbidu


    March 11, 2014 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  15. ioutbidu

    Dimpled Chad.

    March 11, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  16. Jane

    What happened to my comment ? its been over an hour and its still in moderation ?

    March 11, 2014 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  17. waitaminute

    No surprise. Democrats are done. Pelosi is done. Reid is done. The liars' reign is soon over.

    March 11, 2014 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  18. Fritz

    Alex Sank

    March 11, 2014 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  19. TheReckoning

    LULZ @ GOP Keeps Seat. Whole country was predicting sink. And Jolly lost 5% to the libertarian candidate.

    March 11, 2014 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  20. Celebrity Dictator

    Let this be a warning to all the other sell-outs who backed the Obamacare "tax". Your chickens are coming home to roost come next November!

    March 11, 2014 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  21. McBob79

    This is a good thing for the nation. Without checks and balances, Mr. Obama will surely drive the country further into the ground.

    March 11, 2014 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  22. Steven

    Well, that's a good sign for Republicans. They won a contested election after getting outspent by an almost 3 to 1 margin. Now if only we can out some Tea Party reps and bring some Blue Dog Democrats back into office we may get government functioning well again.

    March 11, 2014 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  23. Jim

    But of course CNN chooses Sound Off over Disquss for news like this! This way, you will see All of the comments CNN sees fit for your consumption and nothing more. Really kind of pathetic and obvious censorship by your "news" source.

    March 11, 2014 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  24. jjjscott

    Did Overby swing the election for Jolly.

    March 11, 2014 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  25. Rick

    Florida, old people, GOP, I mean common like anyone else was going to win it.

    March 11, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
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