Former lobbyist David Jolly on Tuesday won the Republican primary in the special election for a vacant Florida congressional seat, vaulting him into a nationally watched battle with Democrat Alex Sink for the right to succeed the late GOP Rep. Bill Young.
While all politics are local you can bet that the nation will be watching this race and both sides will get plenty of money to help boost their campaigns.
Both parties have much at stake in the March 11 election for the St. Petersburg-area 13th District, a swing seat that narrowly broke for President Barack Obama in the last two elections. A Republican win would keep Young’s seat in the party’s column and bolster the GOP’s argument that unease with the Obamacare rollout is the driving narrative of the 2014 campaign. A Democratic win would provide the party a boost in its long-shot quest to erase the GOP’s 17-seat hold on the chamber.
Sink, a 2010 gubernatorial candidate and former state chief financial officer, heads into the race as the favorite. While Jolly emerges from his primary scarred from the bitter Republican fight, Sink glided to her party’s nomination unscathed.
POLITICO reports that New York Rep. Steve Israel, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, previewed the attack line against Jolly after his win on Tuesday.
“While successful businesswoman Alex Sink has spent her career working across the aisle to get things done, Washington lobbyist David Jolly helped stack the deck for special interests and ignore Pinellas families,” he said in a statement.
While Jolly enters the general election phase of the race with a depleted bank account, Sink — who’s raised an eye-popping $1.1 million since joining the race in October — is cash flush. Sink will also have the backing of a well-funded lineup of Democratic groups, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and EMILY’s List, both of whom endorsed her early in the race and are likely to plow cash into the contest. While Republican groups are likely to invest in the race, too, some say they first want to determine whether Jolly can win.
Jolly, a former Young aide, has taken up the late congressman’s mantle. He’s been airing TV ads spotlighting support from Young’s ex-wife, Beverly, and has proclaimed himself to be a “Bill Young Republican.” But that association may no longer boost Jolly: Earlier this month, the Tampa Bay Times published a damaging story revealing that Young had effectively cut off his first family for years after marrying Beverly Young, his onetime secretary. Young, a political moderate and prominent appropriator, held the seat for more than four decades. More...