David Jolly Alex Sink
As goes Florida's 13th district special election today for a seat in the US House of Representatives, so goes the nation. Or at least that's the billing that this contest has been given.
Lackluster candidates, millions spent, a third-party candidate: Every detail of Tuesday’s special election in Florida’s 13th District makes it unusual, but the bellwether district is still the first indication of the 2014 electoral mood.
The contested office was left vacant when the late Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) passed away a few months ago. His seat is being touted by both parties as the bellwether - the predictor - of the November midterm elections. The vacant seat, held for 17 years by a Republican is now closely contested. Both parties want this seat so badly to use to boost their close campaigns elsewhere across the country.
If Democrats win, the other state battles won't be over Obamacare. The Republicans will be on the defensive for shutting down the government last year, the long term unemployment benefits, the stifling of a new minimum wage, the immigration bill, cuts to food stamps, and 50 votes taken against Obamacare, wasting millions of dollars of tax payer money.
If the Republicans win, look out. It shows the nation's going to fight every Democratic candidate who stands up or stood up for the ACA, indicating a probably loss of the Senate and possibly losing more seats in the House.
So who did the two parties pick to be the standard bearer for this highly contentious and seemingly important foreshadowing of things to come?Two of the most flawed candidates you could find, Democrat Alex Sink (a woman) and Republican David Jolly (no surprise, a white man.)
Democrats repeatedly attacked Jolly for his lobbying background, pointing to his work for a group that pushed Social Security privatization as evidence Jolly himself wouldn’t protect the program in the senior-heavy district.
A smattering of negative headlines also distracted from the race. They include details about the recently divorced Jolly, 41, dating former employee who is 14 years younger and an accidental car crash he was involved in that left a man dead.
Oh, but the Republicans haven't held anything back either in their mudslinging campaign:
Republicans have hammered Sink on the litany of negative effects of the law [ACA] just ahead of the end of the open enrollment period at the end of March.
“Canceled health plans, higher premiums, Medicare cuts, people losing their doctors, a disaster for families and seniors,” says the narrator in one ad hitting Sink, launched by the Chamber of Commerce
Well, we won't know until tonight which candidate has won. But the stakes are unusually high. And both parties are publicly confessing this race is especially close and extremely important.
Complicating matters is that there's a libertarian, Lucas Overby, who could draw 3 to 4 percent of the vote, a margin that could cost either of the other two candidates.
If they lose, the GOP will point to the deck they say was stacked against them. Even Jolly himself was downplaying his chances on the eve of the election. In a Fox News interview, he told host Neil Cavuto that “the demographics here trend Democrat.”
Well, that's not even closely or remotely true. In this district there's a double-digit Republican advantage. So we'll just have to wait and see if the politics of the future is trumped by the echoes of the out-of-touch Republicans of the past.
Should be very interesting. Bragging rights and strategic planning for both parties are on the line.