In a special election marked by unusually high turnout, David Jolly, former aide to the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, will be running for his boss’s old seat in March after winning Tuesday night’s Republican primary in Congressional District 13 over state Rep. Kathleen Peters and retired Marine Brig. Gen. Mark Bircher.
He will face Democrat Alex Sink, the former chief financial officer who lost to Gov. Rick Scott in the 2010 race for governor.
According to unofficial results from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office, Jolly took 44.58 percent of the votes, Peters 31.96 percent and Bircher 24.46 percent of about 46,000 votes cast. According to Bay News 9, District 13 has about 170,000 Republican voters, which means about the primary drew a turnout of about 27 percent.
Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark told Bay News 9 the normal turnout for a special primary election is about 10 percent.
That could signal an intense interest among Republican voters in the upcoming general election. And in a victory statement, Jolly made it clear that though the candidates will be named Jolly and Sink, the real issue on that general election ballot will be named Obamacare.
“The choice in this race is now between a liberal politician from Hillsborough, backed by Washington, and a Pinellas County Republican who is running for you,” Jolly told supporters in the statement.
“While my opponent defends Obamacare despite the mess of broken promises and the threat it poses to every family and every business, I will work to repeal Obamacare, right away, and replace it with an affordable, private sector solution that actually fulfills this promise: if you like your insurance, you can keep it.”
In a separate statement, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry called Jolly a “strong candidate who will carry on the legacy of Bill Young ….”
“While Alex Sink owns a record of failure as CFO and supports the failed policies of the Obama Administration, including Obamacare, David Jolly will fight for small businesses and the middle class while bringing common sense to Washington,” Curry said.
In her own statement, Sink avoided even mentioning Obamacare – despite a vow by Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz that Democratic congressional candidates would be running on the train wreck of health-care reform.
Instead, Sink stressed the local elements of the race.
“Our campaign is about one important message: bringing Republicans and Democrats together to focus on challenges that matter most to Pinellas,” she said.
The general election is scheduled for March 11.
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