Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Special Election Offers Bad News for Democrats

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Special Election Offers Bad News for Democrats

Article excerpt

The special election last Tuesday for a House seat in Florida is a harbinger of things to come, say Republicans, because the Republican won.

It's no big deal, say Democrats, because the Democrat didn't.

Republicans have an edge in voter registration (37 percent to 34.6 percent) in the district, mostly Pinellas county north of St. Petersburg.

Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young, who represented the area from 1971 until his death in October, was a Republican.

But President Barack Obama won the 13th District narrowly in 2008 and 2012.

So did Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate for governor in 2010, in her losing bid that year.

Ms. Sink was the Democratic candidate in the special election. The Republican was David Jolly, a Washington lobbyist who had been an aide to Rep. Young.

Ms. Sink was well known, Mr. Jolly unknown.

"She ran a hyper-disciplined campaign with a far more robust get- out-the-vote effort than Republicans," said Adam Smith, political editor of the Tampa Times.

"A half-dozen Washington Republicans have described Jolly's campaign...as a Keystone Cops operation, marked by inept fundraising...and the poor optics of a just-divorced, 41-year-old candidate accompanied on the campaign trail by a girlfriend 14 years his junior," Politico reported March 7.

Ms. Sink led by 7 and 9 percentage points in polls in mid- February, by 3 in a poll the day before the election.

But when the votes were counted, Mr. Jolly had 48.43 percent, Ms. Sink 46.55 percent.

Mr. Jolly won despite the presence in the race of a Libertarian candidate, who drew 4.83 percent of the vote.

He won because outside groups spent a ton of money on ads attacking Ms. Sink, Democrats said.

That's true.

But Democrats and their allies spent more - $6.4 million to $6.3 million for Republicans and their allies - estimated Michael Beckel of the Center for Public Integrity.

One word explains why Alex Sink lost a race she should have won, but Democrats were loathe to utter it.

It wasn't Obamacare that sank Sink, said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. It was low voter turnout.

In a low turnout election, the superior Democrat get-out-the- vote operation should have given Ms. …

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