Anyone watching the special election in Congressional District 13 would come away with a few takeaways from Republican David Jolly’s win over perennial Democrat loser Alex Sink.
- Jeb Bush is still really important in Florida.
- Alex Sink is a horrible candidate with another coulda, woulda, shoulda loss on her resume.
- Even though Obamacare is super unpopular, the GOP should be careful about putting all their eggs in that midterm basket in swing districts.
- Democrats have to be questioning Hillary Clinton’s leadership after she sat on the sidelines on what was supposed to be the most important House race leading up to the mid-term elections.
- Attack ads, (I call them opponent clarification) work…nah, they don’t work…Yeah, they work!
- A third-party candidate can really muck up the works for both parties.
Jeb Bush is the 800-pound gorilla in GOP politics in Florida and nationally. He isn’t the sole reason Jolly won this race, but Jolly doesn’t win without him. The interesting thing to take away is, Jeb not only helped Jolly with Republicans, he didn’t hurt Jolly with Democrats. Look out world, here comes Jeb Bush in 2016!
Alex Sink has one win under her belt. It was when there was a contentious GOP primary and she had no general election. She lost a close race for governor when she had no primary and there was the most expensive GOP primary in the history of the state of Florida. Now, she has a second loss where she was the Democrat nominee and lost to a candidate who was weakened by a GOP primary.
While Democrats have a new horse to run for governor (or more like a candidate who changed to a donkey, but that’s another column), it is time to put this one out to pasture.
This was a much closer race than it should have been if this was a race about Obamacare and the people of this district hate Obamacare. My guess is they hate Obamacare, but a bruised GOP nominee in the primary and a Libertarian candidate made the race much closer. So, the jury may be out on this one.
If Obamacare wasn’t the big loser Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton is. Democrats have to question her leadership for many reasons, but where was she for this race. She certainly owes her base some answers to why she didn’t help another Democratic woman more.
I live in this media market and the attack ads were everywhere. Some question whether they work, but with more than 180,000 votes cast, they don’t, at first glance, appear to have hurt turnout to a degree that determined the winner. The truth is they do help frame the debate if they are conducted in an “opponent clarification” manner that informs the public. Most of the ads in this race passed that smell test.
Look for more third-party candidates to run in marginal districts to try to determine the winner. Some would say that Ross Perot’s candidacy cost George H.W. Bush in 1992 and others may argue that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore in 2000. Both arguments are probably correct. Look for third-party groups to convince and bankroll some candidates just so they can affect the outcome of the race. The Libertarian candidate gained nearly 5 percent and probably made this race for Sink seem much more palatable.
Is this race a huge win for Republicans or a devastating loss for Democrats? Probably neither, but it is a preview of what’s to come in 2014 and beyond.
Jamie Miller is a republican political consultant who has been involved in races in West Virginia, Mississippi, North Carolina and five statewide races in Florida.