Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Beginning - GOP Underdog Wins Seat In District Obama Carried Twice
Florida's 13th District in Pinellas County is the epitome of what Democrats like to call 'purple'. While the long time congressman was CW Young, a very non-Tea Party sorta Left-leaning Republican, the district itself had gone for Barack Obama twice, 52 percent to 48 percent in 2008 and 50 percent to 49 percent in 2012. So when Young died in October of cancer, Democrats saw this as a prime pickup opportunity.
They ran Alex Sink, who was well known statewide and an experienced campaigner who won the 13th district during her run for governor in 2010. She received top tier funding from the DNC and outside Democrat groups to the tune of around $7 million, outspending GOP Candidate David Jolly by a 4-1 margin. And she was a priority candidate for the Democrat leadership. Former President Bill Clinton and other Democrat luminaries did events and made Robocalls for her. She seemed a cinch to win.
David Jolly, on the other hand was a a little-known, second- or third-tier Republican, a former staffer of Young's who became a lobbyist. He largely got the nomination because Sink looked so strong and no one else wanted it.He got some support from the RNC as a non-Tea Party republican, but nothing like the level of Sink's, especially since the conventional wisdom was that it was her race to lose.
Sink blanketed the airwaves with negative ads,painting Jolly as a crooked lobbyist who hated women an dgays and would cut grampa and grandma's healthcare and social security to nothing before raising the price on the quality moist dog food so all they could afford would be that dry kibble, if that. In a district where 1 in 4 voters is a retiree, that kind of falsehood resonated.
The Democrats even resorted to what I'll call the Virginia Strategy (where it put Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the governor's mansion),bringing in a 'libertarian', Lucas Overby as a straw man to suck up Republican votes on the Right. Rand Paul again
On the other hand, Jolly mostly ran his campaign on old fashioned shoe leather and personal appearances with voters, and ultimately, his likeability compared to Sink's shrill rants started to tip the polls his way.
In the end, this particular nice guy finished first against long odds, winning by two points, 48.5 to to Sink's 46.7 percent. Lucas Overby picked up 4.8 percent, almost enough to put Sink over the top but not quite.
A number of people are referring to this as a result of the unpopularity of ObamaCare, and there's some truth in that. There's no question that Jolly was able to tie Sink to ObamaCare, since she has always been a cheerleader for that misconceived legislative error. But more than just ObamaCare, it's a sign that the president's entire act isn't going over the way it used to and that the American people are tired of his incompetence and autocratic nature, tired of the lies, the sleaze and the scandals. if Overby hadn't been in the race as a Democrat wingman, David Jolly's win would have been a lot more decisive.
For his part, like his predecessor Jolly is no partisan ideologue. In his victory speech, he made a point of saying that it was time to put the rancor and nastiness of the campaign aside, and that his chief goal was serving the constituents of Pinellas County, not an agenda.
Ultimately, the reason Jolly won is because he was able to take that message to the voters, and enough of them believed him to give hiom an impressive win.