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. Jay1009

    Demos outspent repubs 3-1. This story does not mention that when it points to outside money.

    March 12, 2014 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  2. Jimh77

    Just more of the same for a few more years.... Apparently the Republicans are liked in FL.

    March 12, 2014 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  3. TransitDave

    Not sure this is any indication of how November will be, but a win is a win.......The GOP won, and the democrats lost. Alex Sink, who had statewide name recognition, lost. She is done. A relative unknown beat her. that says something as well, at least as much as the relatively close margin of victory.

    March 12, 2014 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  4. valwayne

    This was only a historically Republican district because the same Republican had held it since the 1950s. Its actually become a lean democrat district with Obama winning it twice and the democrat candidate Sink actually won the district when she ran for Governor although she lost that race in a squeaker. Sink had the advantage of a lean democrat district, name recognition, and she and outside groups supporting her outspent the Republican and outside groups supporting him by 1 million dollars. Everyone thought she was going to win, and that's Republican and Democrat experts.. That she got less than 47% with all the advantage she had is a shocker. It seems the voters are angrier at the LIES and Fraud the democrats used to cram the nightmare of Obamacare down our throats and they are willing and ready to punish them at the polls. Let's hope that this is the building wave that will cleanse our nation in Nov of the LIARS who defrauded all of us and crammed the nightmare of Obamacare down our throats.

    March 12, 2014 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  5. eojsmada

    A hotly contested election that didn't go as well as predicted. Lots of money was funnelled in on both sides to see how the electorate is thinking and what message plays well with the voters. Will be interesting to see how each side approaches things after this. Lots of Senatorial seats up for grabs, with all the retirements. I'm thinking that the voters are starting to get on to both parties' "tricks" and able to see through the shenanigans and gaming of the system. I think it will be interesting to see what happens. I would expect a fairly high voter turnout for a midterm election, which may yield some interesting results.

    March 12, 2014 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  6. Name Uche Agonsi

    The tragedy of a win of sentiment is a preference for a course without direction. Obamacare could be hated but without an alternative is hopeless. Sometimes one could not help weeping for American voters against money influence.

    March 12, 2014 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  7. Working Dude

    Well lets hope the rest of America has realized Obama is wrong. He will lie to get what he wants from you. To him we are all expendable as long as it pushes his perverted view for America.

    March 12, 2014 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  8. joejmauro

    This is my district there will never be another Bill Young!!!

    March 12, 2014 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  9. Michael Hobart

    Not a big surprise given that the district usually votes Republican for the House.

    March 12, 2014 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  10. This is gay

    Blah blah blah

    March 12, 2014 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  11. mike in NH

    All Jolly in Florida as Sink is sunk. A cautionary tale for Dems in 2014.

    March 12, 2014 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  12. Kyle Guthrie

    Much as the democrats may not like or want it to be so, Obamacare is the reason she lost, and it will continue to be the driving force behind more losses for the democrats.

    Obamacare was a very very bad idea.

    March 12, 2014 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  13. daniel

    As an independent, I can say the far left has gone to far.....It's time for a change in pace. I will be voting mostly R's this time around.

    March 12, 2014 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  14. Jospeh A., West Palm Beach, FL

    How can the GOP say a special election that is traditionally a low turnout and in a district that has a Republican representing it for 43 years a referendum on ACA?

    Besides didn't we just have a National Election where the main point of the GOP platform was to repeal ACA??

    March 12, 2014 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  15. Pendy

    How long until they find the omitted box of 3.500 ballots, 100% for Sink? Worked for Al Franken in Minnesota.

    March 12, 2014 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  16. Pendy

    Why am I being "moderated"?

    March 12, 2014 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  17. jim flynn, pinellas

    Sink outspent Jolly 3 to 1, a belllweather indeed.

    March 12, 2014 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  18. Hil

    YEA..wake up Vote out the Idiots in office

    March 12, 2014 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  19. John

    This is a preview of the 2014 elections. Enjoy your Obamacare democrats! You earned it!

    March 12, 2014 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  20. demagogue

    Some folks are just too ignorant to know what's best for themselves, and florida leads the nation in this regard.

    March 12, 2014 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  21. Jumpy

    The liberal and democrat posters here on CNN assured me that the dems would easily take this seat.

    What Happened ??????

    March 12, 2014 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  22. Bubba

    The GOP kept this House Seat by only 2%. This should be a grim warning to the GOP. "Florida" is the Seminole People's word for "those who will sell their souls for a Tax Cut". The GOP should win by 40%, not 2%, in the land of Grey Hair Tax Cheats. The GOP is in bigger trouble than they know.

    March 12, 2014 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  23. Joe

    who cares? Big money runs the country anyway and florida is jacked up. This is an election for an 8 month term that would not have swung anything. It was a republican district before and is still. one district in florida would change nothing and I doubt may people in the district even cared since less than twenty thousand voted in a district that includes Tampa Bay. Who cares nothing to see here no matter who won and they were both bought off by big business anyway. The names change but the policies and bad ideas stay the same. Republican or democrat they both suck at least republicans don't hide that they are against the poor minorities and anyone who looks different Democrats pander to them and then screw them when no one is watching. Point is folks none of these people care about you or making america better they are there for themselves and if you think I am lying try to call and actually speak to a congressman you may get an intern but they will never talk to you unless you corner them at a town hall meeting or wave some cash.

    March 12, 2014 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  24. RB1

    Another news source outlet has been playing this election result as proof that the Democrats will loose all the future elections because of Obamacare. What a serious breach of ethical journalism!
    I am absolutely shocked that Republican has won in a staunchly Republican region of the state! I don't know how a Republican won in a region where there are two retirees for every working class worker, or in a state where corruption is so rampant that it equals that of a third world country with a dictatorship! Yes, it is a strangely freak accident that the Republicans won this election and of course they all want to blame it on Obama. Now that was some really biased news reporting, but Thank God not at this news outlet!

    March 12, 2014 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  25. Joe P

    Koch Bros. buy another one....big surprise. "Large infusion of outside money" says it all. Thanks to our shameful SCOTUS for unleashing Citizen's United on us to insure our government can be bought and paid for.

    March 12, 2014 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
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