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. kellsbellsfrompc

    Walking on sunshine and feeling jolly! 🙂

    March 11, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  2. CSD

    Shocking, I say. Must be a tidal shift. Florida has always been so progressive and intelligent.

    March 11, 2014 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  3. scootfl78

    A lobbyist who stole millions of dollars from tax payers and promised to treat women like pieces of property and to take away people's healthcare won the election. Congrats 13th Congressional District voters for making the state of Florida weaker than it was before when Bill Young was in office.

    March 11, 2014 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  4. Mark

    Lets see how the press spins it for the democrat

    March 11, 2014 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  5. loki

    How do ya like dem apples? Haaaaaaaa

    March 11, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  6. Kelby in Houston

    uhmmm, no. this race isn't a foreshadow of anything. There was a spoiler in the mix.

    March 11, 2014 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  7. Jolat

    How come this isn't the headline CNN? It would've been if the dem had won.

    March 11, 2014 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  8. mike in NH

    Sink sunk and as Florida goes so goes the nation of close states. GOP reversal of fortune.

    March 11, 2014 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  9. The Tax Man

    Yep, Obamacare is on its way out! Let's take back the Senate, Keep the House and get rid of all the Obama crap! You conservatives need to remember only one thing – you all need to vote in 2014 – none of this stay at home stuff because we need every single one of your votes! Then we can focus on keeping Hillary out of office!

    March 11, 2014 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  10. FidyCents

    Pin every Democrat to Obamacare and the outcome is clear.

    March 11, 2014 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  11. Rob

    Is the Democrat Party a viable political party anymore?
    – They're about to lose their third consecutive House election.
    – They've shown no ability to win back the House.
    – They're projected to lose anywhere from 6 to 12 Senate seats.
    – They only have 19 of 50 Governors.
    – Their 2016 Presidential candidates are a 70-year-old ex First Lady with health issues and a lingering embassy scandal; our alarmingly unintelligent Vice President; and one of the architects of the housing crisis.

    March 11, 2014 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  12. Metlman

    The Independents and Third Party candidates seem to be picking up more traction.

    I guess more people are getting sick of bipartisan bickering and media circuses and going to the little guy who actually wants to get things done.

    March 11, 2014 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  13. sammy750

    The Democrats and the voters better get wise soon, as Republicans are going to destroy the nation. It is an all out battle with big corporations and the KOCH brothers. They took over North Carolina and see hos trashed that state is now.

    March 11, 2014 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  14. scranton

    The people have voted and spoken.

    March 11, 2014 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  15. reggie53

    Well, I hope you liberals learn a lesson from this election. Obama has made things worse for us and I hope we Americans will wake up before it is too late.

    March 11, 2014 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  16. 4juices

    Mr. Jolly well done! Work towards fixing the democratic screw up. Please remember, ACA had nothing to do with health care and everything to do with having a piece of paper that read insurance. If they truly cared, they would have brought down the cost of becoming a medical professional or running a medical business.
    Many thanks for caring about our tomorrows.

    March 11, 2014 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  17. Edish

    A 2% victory is a "referendum" on the President and ACA?? LOL. Can the GOP ever be anything less than full of it??

    March 11, 2014 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  18. Cedar Rapids

    So the GOP vote dropped from 58% to 48%?
    Doesn't look like their message is getting out.

    March 11, 2014 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  19. franco

    No one to comment?

    March 11, 2014 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  20. Namelinda

    Americans are hypocrites. They vote on whoever tell the most lies with an innocent face. Give me a break. Democrats need to strike back and get just as dirty as Republicans. Throw dirt for dirt!

    March 11, 2014 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  21. Al

    Good job Florida keep up the fight to turn the ship to a new course for the change is not working.

    March 11, 2014 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  22. sanity

    No comments allowed, right, CNN?

    March 11, 2014 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  23. Tim

    No Surprise... the average age in that district is somewhere around 110.

    March 11, 2014 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  24. duh

    "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."

    I thought the 2012 election was the referendum on the Democratic agenda and Obamacare??? How did that turn out again?

    March 11, 2014 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  25. Kathleen

    I am thankful anybody other than a democrat won. Democrats need to be out of office for the sheer stupidity of Obamacare. They created it/voted for it. Anybody stupid enough to think Obamacare was a good idea is not fit for office. Anybody who thinks it is good that people work part time or not at all instead of full time and let the gov't support them are idiots. The gov't uses taxpayer's money. If everybody goes on the public doll and everybody quits work or works less there won't be any tax money to pay for all the stuff democrats want to force us to have. "Now people can spend more time with their families..." What a stupid thing for democrats to say. We can give everybody in this country everything but it won't last if there are not enough working people to support all this crap. Work on the economy and let people buy and choose their own insurance. If we had a strong economy we would not have to wait for the gov't to hand us their crappy stuff. We could buy our own insurance in a free open market. The top two things a president has to do is defend our country and support a strong economy and this president does neither and just doesn't care. I can't wait for the next elections. We need somebody who cares and understands that the working class and middle class are the backbone of this country. I want to WORK!!! I don't want to have to be on the public doll. Give me my freedom back Mr. President!!!

    March 11, 2014 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
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