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. Sf

    If the idiot independent wasnt on the ballot this woulda been a different outcome and a possibly better future for floridians..oh well let them suffer with another republican at te helm

    March 11, 2014 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  2. April Rainfrette

    The dominoes are about to fall...

    March 11, 2014 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  3. McBob79

    Si se puedo!

    March 11, 2014 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  4. Mike Green

    This is GREAT news for America!!!!!!!

    March 11, 2014 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  5. K Sands

    The last paragraph shows what a distortion the democratic party is and how they continue to mislead the people. This district is a majority senior citizen population – historically proven to vote democratic thus how Obama carried the district in the past two elections. Sink continuously hammered Jolly in her commercials/platform about cutting social security – she raised/spent 3 – 1 what Jolly raised and spent on this election yet lost to Senior Citizens whom desperately care about social security. The last paragraph states Rep. Steve Israel as mentioning the millions from Republican Outside Groups – if Jolly spent millions then how many millions did Sink spend/raise (facts show 3-1) and still ended up losing. Says a lot about what people are thinking for this upcoming election if you ask me. FED UP!

    March 11, 2014 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  6. S. B. Stein

    It remains to be seen what is going to happen in the fall when Jolly has to run again.

    March 11, 2014 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  7. are122

    Poor Sink, down the drain again. She really ought to find a different field of work. Constantly losing elections can't be good on the ego.

    March 11, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  8. JT

    Those that support Obamacare will sink.

    March 11, 2014 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  9. pedro bundol

    Good Let us hope it will be a harbinger for things to come and sweep these corrupt Democrats out of office nation wide. The country has suffered long enough.

    March 11, 2014 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  10. Zero

    Oh, its gonna be a bloodbath. The Senate is ours.

    Tea, anyone?

    March 11, 2014 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  11. Lena

    I guess everyone is overlooking that this been a reliably Republican district for decades, and even though the GOP outspent the Democrats by miles, the Democrats came within a 1% margin of winning it anyway.

    The Republican win was said to be from white males over 65, a demographic that won't be there, voting Republican, as the years go by.

    And there's no way this election will stop Obamacare. The GOP has brought it up for a vote 50 times and it remains the law of the land and will do so.

    March 11, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  12. hey

    The district was gerrymandered. Look at how the southeast tip is cut off which is the most Democrat portion and includes downtown St. Pete which is the most liberal city in Tampa bay.

    March 11, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  13. Jan Nappylotto

    No! This is what happens when you don't allow illegal immigrants to vote...

    March 11, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  14. quieteye

    Can anyone explain this?

    March 11, 2014 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  15. mh1212

    Florida and politics. They're a match made in comedy heaven.

    March 11, 2014 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  16. mimi2vintage

    glad to see the seniors voted Republican

    March 11, 2014 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  17. GTS58

    As of a month ago, the DNC reported Jolly "didn't stand a chance" – that he was overmatched, underfunded and the Libertarian candidate would drain votes from him – all those things were true! How did he manage to win – because of the "Albatross of Obama care hanging around the necks of Democrats." If someone like Jolly could win – when he was such an underdog, a lightweight politician indeed! This spells death for the Democrats in November – a well deserved death as they voted 100% for this horrible piece of legislation that passed without a single Republican vote!

    March 11, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  18. william butler

    koch brothers

    March 11, 2014 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  19. oh

    "The district has one of highest concentration of senior voters in the nation."

    So a solid GOP stronghold with millions of GOP $ pumped in allowed them to barely win this contest?

    Yep, this 'bellwether' election is clear- the GOP is in for some serious trouble during the next national election.

    March 11, 2014 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  20. Barry Lane

    Lose the Libertarian and the Republicans get 53%. A resounding defeat for Obamacare.

    March 11, 2014 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  21. Avalon

    Fear and deceit by GOP, Koch Brothers, and Tea Party sure works very well.

    March 11, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  22. Tom

    So nothing about how the democrats outspent the republicans 3 to1 and still lost? No bias here. Move along. The ticker is a little stuck due to it's left lean. Move along.

    March 11, 2014 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  23. Thomas

    Did anybody expect a deferent outcome ?

    It's FLA .

    March 11, 2014 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  24. Erik

    It's Florida. What did you expect?

    March 11, 2014 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  25. StormySyndrome

    See....something isn't right when they keep office so long that they die within it. Sometimes the old ideas have got to be let go.

    March 11, 2014 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
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