TAMPA, Fla., March 12 (UPI) -- Republican David Jolly won a closely fought battle against Democrat Alex Sink to win Florida's 13th District, winning by a narrow margin of 3,400 votes.
The special election was closely watched as many considered it a teaser to the November midterms, testing each party's messaging at using the issue of Obamacare to swing seats. Jolly favored repealing the law, while his opponent did not.
With 100 percent of the votes counted Jolly had 48.5 percent of the vote to Sink's 46.7 percent. Libertarian Lucas Overby had 4.8 percent. The race was to fill the seat left vacant by the late Rep. Bill Young, who was a moderate and died last fall, giving the Democrats a chance in the swing district that narrowly went to President Barack Obama in 2012.
"This race is not about defending a broken agenda in Washington or advancing a broken agenda in Washington. This race is about serving the people in our own community," Jolly said. "Let's dispense with the rancor and vitriol of the last five months."
Sink, who narrowly lost the 2010 gubernatorial race to Gov. Rick Scott, supported the healthcare law throughout her campaign but said that it still needed fixing.
"I hear a number of different issues that people are concerned about -- like protecting Social Security and Medicare," she said. "They're frustrated with Washington, believe that Washington is not working for them."
Both sides were quick to issue statements, with Republicans claiming this a vindication of their fight against the Affordable Care Act.
"I want to extend a big congratulations to David Jolly on his victory tonight. David proved that Pinellas County voters are tired of the devastating policies of this administration," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden said in a statement. "Throughout this campaign, David has outlined his vision on how to grow the economy, create jobs and deliver quality healthcare for Pinellas families."
"Democrats will fight for FL-13 in the midterm, when the electorate is far less heavily tilted toward Republicans," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel