Republican David Jolly won the special election to fill the House seat left vacant by the death of his former boss, Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.).
With nearly all of the votes counted Tuesday night, Jolly had 48.5 percent of the vote to Alex Sink’s 46.7 percent. Libertarian Lucas Overby had 4.8 percent.
Sink lost the 2010 governor’s race to Rick Scott. The Democratic Party sunk extensive ad funding into the congressional battle, and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) tried to paint the loss as a positive.
“Republican special interest groups poured in millions to hold onto a Republican congressional district that they’ve comfortably held for nearly 60 years. Tonight, Republicans fell short of their normal margin in this district because the agenda they are offering voters has a singular focus – that a majority of voters oppose – repealing the Affordable Care Act that would return us to the same old broken health care system,” Wasserman Schultz said in a DNC rapid response statement.
“While tonight Democrats didn’t win, we are proud of Alex and the race she ran based on a vision of opportunity for all and an agenda that would grow the middle class and protect Florida’s families,” she said.
President Obama carried the 13th District in both 2008 and 2012.
Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, had pegged the special election as a must-win for Democrats.
“Since most nonpartisan handicappers and analysts have for years expected this seat to go Democratic when it became open, a Republican victory would likely say something about the national political environment and the inclination of district voters to send a message of dissatisfaction about the president. And that possibility should worry the White House,” Rothenberg said.
The GOP framed the race as a referendum on Obamacare, and Jolly vows to fight for repeal. Sink defended the spirit of the law but said she was open to fixing parts of Obamacare.