On Monday, the special congressional election to replace longtime U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., headed up as the attacks intensified and a U.S. senator showcased one of the candidates.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., toured a senior center in Seminole with David Jolly, a former Young aide who is the Republican candidate in the race. Jolly takes on former state CFO Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate, and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 special election.
David Jolly is Pinellas County, and we need him now more than ever in Congress, said Rubio on Monday. I know David will fight to stop Obamacare from hurting seniors and families in Pinellas County and throughout our state. We are already seeing the negative impacts of Obamacare on Floridians. Our friends and neighbors face cancelled health care plans, and our seniors face reduced access to care through cuts to MedicareAdvantage. For them, we cant afford to lose this election.
Rubio also linked Sink to U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who attended a fundraiser for Sink in Washington last week.
Nancy Pelosis hand-picked candidate, Alex Sink, would ensure that Obamacares devastating impact to Pinellas is here to stay, Rubio said.
Having Sen. Marco Rubio's help in my campaign is a high honor and I look forward to working together with the senator in Washington for the people of Pinellas County, said Jolly before going on the attack against Sink.
Alex Sinks Medicare plan cuts more than $700 billion from the program, Jolly said. "Additionally, Obamacare is wreaking havoc on the health coverage and the finances of those not yet in the Medicare program through cancelled policies, reduced access to doctors, and increased premiums. Thats why I promise to go to Congress and fight Obamacares impact so Pinellas seniors dont have to worry about a reduction in Medicare benefits, and families dont have to worry about paying more for health care coverage.
My opponent Alex Sink and I have two different views of government, Jolly added. I believe in empowering families and individuals, and my opponent believes government should make decisions for us. My opponent believes in higher taxes and higher regulation, and I believe in less taxes and less regulation.
Jolly also piled on Sink over residency. Sink moved to the district from Hillsbrough County after Youngs death.
I believe you should represent your community not move here just to run for office, Jolly said. I am from Pinellas County and I plan to defend the people of Pinellas County, especially my neighbors hurt by the Obamacare plan that Alex Sink so proudly embraces.
Rubio endorsed Jolly earlier in the campaign and the congressional hopeful has often lined up behind the senator on the issues. Jolly has been a vocal supporter of Rubios call to ensure no taxpayer dollars are used to bail out insurance companies in the aftermath of President Barack Obamas federal health-care law.
Despite this, the Florida Democratic Party played up the Republicans differences on immigration on Monday. Jolly has been wary of the immigration reform plan championed by Rubio and the Gang of Eight in the U.S. Senate.
Its going to be an awkward afternoon when Sen. Marco Rubio confronts special-interest lobbyist David Jolly about Jollys opposition to Rubios signature immigration reform proposal, insisted Joshua Karp, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party, on Monday. Once again, lobbyist Jolly is siding with the most dysfunctional fringe and opposing bipartisan, common-sense solutions to the most pressing challenges facing our country. Its just another sign that lobbyist Jolly and his tea party ideology are out of touch with the values of Pinellas families and that we just cant trust lobbyist David Jolly.
Sink ramped up the attacks on Jolly as well in an email to supporters on Monday, hitting Jolly for his work as a lobbyist. My opponent is running scared and is doing what Washington lobbyists always do -- he is calling on special interests to bankroll his campaign, Sink wrote. Karl Rove and the special interest super-PACs are buying millions of dollars of TV ads to misconstrue my record.
But even as Sink bashed super-PACs, liberal House Majority PAC, a super-PAC looking to help out Democrats in U.S. House races, launched a new ad bashing Jolly for his lobbying work.
Sinks mention of Karl Rove concerns American Crossroads, a Republican super-PAC with ties to the Republican strategist best known for helping George W. Bushs presidential bids. Rove has ties to American Crossroads which is sending mailers to voters in the district bashing Sink for supporting President Barack Obamas federal health-care law.
The race for Florida's 13th District is too important to sit on the sidelines, the conservative PAC informed supporters at the end of January. We need David Jolly in Congress to stand up for conservative values and against Obamacare's failure.
The group plans to spend around $500,000 against Sink.
Also on Monday, the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association endorsed Sink.
With her years of experience as a business leader and as Floridas chief financial officer and a proven record of fighting for public education we are proud to endorse Alex Sink and are confident Alex will take the voices of teachers, students and parents to Washington, said Kim Black, the president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association. Alex understands that supporting Pinellas County schools, colleges, and universities is an investment in the future of our community and the economic growth of our state. We are confident Alex will be a passionate and effective advocate for Pinellas schools and families.
I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Pinellas County Classroom Teachers Association, said Sink. As the mother of two children who attended public school here in Florida, I know firsthand the importance of working to strengthen and improve our schools. One of the most important investments we can make to grow our economy for middle class families is in the education and future of our children. We need to bring Republicans, Democrats and independents together to focus on issues that matter, like improving our schools and supporting our teachers -- its these bipartisan, results-oriented values Ive practiced my entire life and its these values that Ill bring to Congress.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.