Now that the smokes cleared in CD 13, its time to look at some of the winners and losers in the race -- besides, of course, new Congressman David Jolly and losing candidate Alex Sink.
Bill Young II. Despite all of the family drama, the namesake of the former congressman emerged a winner. While there was talk about him running for the seat his father held for decades, Young is now running against Dwight Dudley for a Florida House seat. Despite opposing Jolly in the primary, Young was smart enough to make peace and do his best for the Republican candidate. Recording a robocall in the last days of the campaign and saying Jolly was a worthy heir to his father, Young did his best to heal the wounds from the primary and should have a united GOP behind him in November.
Rand Paul. In the last week of the campaign, Republicans were worried that Libertarian Lucas Overby could cost Jolly the race. Paul did a robocall on Jollys behalf and, in such a close race, his efforts mattered. Paul also scored some points and did some outreach in Florida which will be a big state in the Republican presidential primaries in 2016. Not a shabby outing for the senator from Kentucky.
Jessica Ehrlich. No doubt about it, Ehrlich got hosed by her fellow Democrats. She was the first candidate in decades to hold Bill Young under 60 percent back in 2012 and was already off and running for a rematch in 2014. When Young died, Democrats put the squeeze on Ehrlich to get out of the race. Ehrlich did exactly that and, if she wants it, she should be next in line to take on Jolly. Its hard to imagine Ehrlich making the blunders Sink did or not going on the attack in the final days of the election. Sinks loss could open the door to yet another run from Ehrlich. At the very least, Ehrlich has earned the right to say I told you so to her fellow Democrats.
Republican groups. Jolly simply failed to keep up with Sink in the money chase. Not a problem as the NRCC, American Crossroads, American Action Network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups filled the void. These groups kept Jolly in the race as they launched attack ads against Sink. Add the Republican Party of Florida to this list -- these folks are going to reap sizable benefits in money, esteem and PR.
The Libertarian Party of Florida. It was easy to write off Libertarian Lucas Overby but he proved a hard-working candidate who showed the flag for his party. He ended up with just under 5 percent and was a clear threat to tip the race Sinks way. Libertarians are building a little steam in Florida and showing more savvy than they have in past elections.
Barack Obama.Jolly went after Sink on Obamacare and she supported it more than she had in 2010. Even though Obama stayed on the sidelines while the likes of Bill Clinton tried to help Sink, the president can't be pleased with this loss in a swing district. Jolly's win all but slams the door on what little hope Democrats had of picking up the House in November. CD 13 points to Democrats headed for a rough year as Obama's popularity continues to slide and he looks more like a lame duck with each passing day.
Democrat groups. A few hours before polls closed, the House Majority PAC crowed about spending $1 million to help Sink. Oops. Other groups that helped her also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with the DCCC spending $2 million. Despite more money spent backing Sink than for Jolly, it didnt matter at the end.
Allison Tant. The moment Sink entered the race, the chairwoman of the Florida Democrats was on her team, even though Ehrlich was still in the mix. With Rick Krisemans and Amanda Murphys victories in the area, Tant was looking for the trifecta and it didnt fall into place. While nowhere near as bad as the Allie Braswell fiasco, Tant got behind a candidate too early and it didnt pay off.
Kathleen Peters. After coming in second to Jolly in the GOP primary, Peters could be heading for another primary loss in August. Jolly painted Peters as too liberal and it could have a lasting effect. Businessman Leo Govoni jumped in the primary against her and raised around $71,000 in December and January but slowed down to $2,350 last month. Peters stepped it up in February, bringing in $28,100, raising her total so far to $85,650. While she has the edge, Peters will have a fight on her hands with Govoni trying to outflank her from the right, just as Jolly did.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.