Victory in Florida Race Bolsters Midterm Hopes for Republicans

   < < Go Back
from The New York Times,

In a major victory for Republicans in the battle for control of Congress, David Jolly, a former lobbyist, narrowly won a special election for a House seat on Tuesday in a hotly contested swing district, giving the party an expensive triumph in its fight against President Obama’s health care plan.

After months of diligent courting by the three candidates and a $9 million barrage of political advertising by outside groups, voters in Pinellas County chose Mr. Jolly over Alex Sink, a Democrat and his main rival. Mr. Jolly won 48.4 percent of the vote and Ms. Sink received 46.5 percent. A third candidate, Lucas Overby, a Libertarian, won 4.8 percent.

It was a disappointing defeat for Ms. Sink and the Democratic Party, which had worked arduously to try to claim the longtime Republican seat.

Taking the stage to thunderous applause after his victory, a beaming Mr. Jolly, 41, said he would work across party lines to best represent the district.

“I did not run for Congress to advance Washington, I ran for Congress to advance Pinellas County,” Mr. Jolly said. “I seek to work with everybody. Know this: That does not mean resigning my convictions that we stand for, that brought us here tonight.”

The victory will embolden Republicans as they head into the midterm election and bolster their message — that the nation disapproves of the Affordable Care Act and Mr. Obama’s leadership.

“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 Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, who is chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, referring to the House Democratic leader.

For Democrats, the loss is a significant blow to morale. Ms. Sink, 65, a moderate who lost her race for governor in 2010, is a well-known party figure and ran a well-organized campaign awash in donations and buoyed by millions of dollars of outside spending.

Even before the loss, Democrats were playing down a possible defeat, saying the mostly white, Republican-leaning district, packed with many older voters, was going to be a challenge for them.

More From The New York Times: