Florida Bellwether Race Results in GOP Victory

By:  Thomas R. Eddlem
Florida Bellwether Race Results in GOP Victory

Republican David Jolly won a March 12 special election in Florida, a victory many are calling a bellwether for the November mid-term elections.

Former Republican lobbyist David Jolly prevailed in a March 12 special election in Florida's 13th Congressional District, a swing district victory many political observers are calling a bellwether for the November mid-term elections. The prime issue of contention in the race between Jolly and Democrat Alex Sink was President Obama's signature healthcare law, usually called “ObamaCare.”

Jolly is an establishment GOP favorite who prevailed with a plurality in a three-way GOP primary, and he will replace 42-year veteran Representative C.W. “Bill” Young, a Republican who died of cancer on October 18 last year. Young was reelected from the grave with 57 percent of the vote in the November election, while Jolly received a 49 percent to 46 percent victory over Democratic nominee Alex Sink. A libertarian candidate took the rest of the vote. Jolly's victory comes despite the unappealing nature of the candidate. Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal reported on March 11 that “Jolly's background was about as unfavorable as it gets — a Washington influence-peddler.” Jolly had been a Capitol Hill staffer and Washington, D.C. lobbyist who campaigned on establishment Republican issues that mirrored Mitt Romney's unsuccessful presidential run: vaguely worded platitudes against spending, opposition to ObamaCare, and a strong affirmation of the military-industrial complex. 

Jolly's campaign website “issues” page posited that “Pinellas County and the Bay area are blessed to be home to the ‘national security triangle’ — a combination of active duty military and Coast Guard installations, veterans and industry. We must fight to maintain our local and regional military installations upon which so many jobs rely, and we must protect and grow the strong presence of defense, manufacturing and high technology jobs that ultimately provide for the security for our nation.” Other than an affirmation of the right to keep and bear arms, Jolly's “issues” page was silent about civil liberties issues, such as surveillance of American citizens by the NSA. 

Political observer Stuart Rothenberg labeled the Florida race “The Race Democrats Can’t Afford to Lose” in Roll Call magazine the day before the special election. Rothenberg wrote: “A loss in the competitive March 11 contest would almost certainly be regarded by dispassionate observers as a sign that President Barack Obama could constitute an albatross around the neck of his party’s nominees in November.

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