David Jolly won the Republican primary Tuesday, earning a chance to face former state CFO Alex Sink in a special election in March for the congressional seat left open by the death of longtime U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla. Jolly, an attorney who worked as an aide to Young and as a lobbyist, defeated retired Marine Gen. Mark Bircher and state Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-St. Petersburg, in the primary.
It is with great respect ... that I accept your nomination to be the Republican candidate to represent Pinellas County," Jolly told supporters Tuesday night.
With all votes in, Jolly had 45 percent followed by Peters with 31 percent and Bircher trailing with 24 percent. Voting proved light on Tuesday with the Pinellas County supervisor of elections office estimating few eligible voters hit the polls. But 21 percent cast ballots by mail, and they went strongly for Jolly, allowing him to build a healthy margin of victory over his two primary rivals. Less than 27 percent of eligible Republican voters cast their ballots in the special primary.
Jolly had the backing of much of the Republican leadership in Pinellas County, including Beverly Young, the congressmans widow. Peters had the support, among others, of state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, while former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., helped solidify Birchers tea party credentials.
I am humbled and encouraged by our victory tonight, and I thank you very much for yoursupport in this race for the future of Pinellas County, said Jolly after the victory.
The choice in this race is nowbetween a liberal politician from Hillsborough, backed by Washington, and a Pinellas CountyRepublican who is running for you." He explained, "While my opponent defends Obamacare, despite the mess ofbroken promises and the threat it poses to every family and every business, I will work to repealObamacare, right away, and replace it with an affordable, private sector solution that actuallyfulfills this promise: "If you like your insurance, you can keep it.? This is a Pinellas County race,and I am in this to win for the people of Pinellas.
Democrats quickly fired away at the new nominee. The choice for voters in Pinellas County couldnt be more clear: Alex Sink, a business leader and common-sense problem solver, and David Jolly, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist who worked as a shill for the highest-bidding special interest, said Andy Stone, a spokesman for House Majority PAC, a Democratic super-PAC. This is a district that Republicans have held for decades and they will undoubtedly go to the mat to keep it. House Majority PAC is prepared to do whatever is necessary to make sure the distorted attacks on Alex Sink we know are coming dont go unanswered.
But the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) rushed to defend him and took shots at Sink by trying to link her to President Barack Obamas federal health-care law.
"On behalf of the Republican Party of Florida, I would like to congratulate David Jolly on his victory in the District 13 Republican primary, said Lenny Curry, chairman of the RPOF, on Tuesday night. Jolly is a strong candidate who will carry on the legacy of Bill Young by fighting every day for the citizens of Pinellas County. 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."
"Washington, D.C., do not count us out," Jolly insisted. "We are going to win this race on March 11."
The general election will be March 11 with Jolly, Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby on the ballot. It is expected to be competitive.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.