Workhorse David Jolly, Blundering Alex Sink

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: March 12, 2014 3:55 AM
David Jolly and Alex Sink

David Jolly and Alex Sink

Florida’s produced some unlikely congressmen in recent years, ranging from Steve Southerland to Ted Yoho -- and now David Jolly.

Despite working for Bill Young, Jolly couldn’t escape his work in lobbying on the campaign trail. It’s not exactly the best of professions to launch a political career but Jolly turned out to be sharp on the issues, good on the campaign trail and a hard worker on the stump.

But the stars aligned for Jolly. When Alex Sink moved into the district, prominent Republicans stayed out of the race, leaving a relatively weak primary field. Jolly beat out his two rivals with ease. Despite less-than-impressive campaign fundraising and squabbles with Beltway Republicans, Jolly pulled out a squeaker on Tuesday night and now is headed back to Washington, this time as a congressman.

At first glance, Jolly will prove more of a workhorse than a show horse. He’s already demonstrated a mind for policy and, from his time on Young’s team and his days as a lobbyist, Jolly knows how Washington works.

Jolly and Sink duked it out on a range of fronts. Sink trashed Jolly’s lobbying background and tried to scare seniors that he’d damage Social Security. Jolly tried to hang Obamacare around Sink’s neck and pointed out that she moved into the district just to run in the race.

Just like 2010, Sink showed an uncanny knack to pull defeat out of the jaws of victory. In the final days of the campaign, despite polls showing a close race, Sink went positive with commercials of her walking around the district meeting voters and a spot with her father.

Democrats can be excused for having flashbacks from 2010 when Rick Scott beat out Sink. Back then, Sink got in trouble in a debate with Scott for looking at a smartphone and violating the rules. This time out, at yet another debate, Sink blundered her point about immigration reform and made it sound like she thought immigrants were needed to work menial jobs. The Republicans, of course, made political hay out of this. Jolly and his backers also went after Sink’s remark that people were excited to have new opportunities if they lost their jobs to Obamacare.

Sink also got off to a bad start. In September, she said she wasn’t running for governor and was focused on her Florida Next Foundation. A few weeks later, Sink was packing her bags, moving from Hillsborough to Pinellas and running for Congress.

Sink’s botched responses and often wooden performances served as a reminder that she was not much of a political pro. While she’s the only Democrat in recent years to have won state Cabinet office, Sink’s background is banking. Sink was helped out by running for CFO in 2006, a good year for Democrats across the nation, and by having husband Bill McBride in her corner. She’s simply not a natural politician, as losses to first-time candidates Scott and Jolly clearly show. Watching her stumble in the congressional race, Democrats should be glad she passed on a rematch with Scott.

Democrats plan to go after Jolly in November and they should. This is a swing seat, after all, and Jolly skated to a small victory despite being outspent by Sink and her backers. But one thing’s clear: Alex Sink had her chance and blew it. Democrats need to look for another candidate to challenge Jolly in November.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (5)

sandy oestreich
1:42PM MAR 12TH 2014
Jeff may be first outta' the box to do the aftermath reporting which is simple compared to predicting. Alex has the better experience. Jolly has the Republican tribal mantra.

What I don't get is how this District's senior citizens could overlook Jolly's issues so damaging to them. I guess shooting yrself in the foot is a nonpartisan thing.

Let's hope Jolly does not fulfill all his promises.
Jeff Delp
8:44AM MAR 12TH 2014
Alex Sink's campaign should serve as an example of how not to elected. I live in south St. Pete. I was besieged with mailers and phone calls from Sink throughout the campaign, especially the last two days when I had 'Bowser' sing to me twice and told Sink campaigners to stop calling me and remove my number from their list. Yes, I swore at them, sorry. The point of this is that I could not vote for either candidate, since I don't live in their district. Sink wasted money and hours on contacting me and I assume many others out side of her district. If that is the way she and her advisors would spend money in Washington, then I am happy that she will not represent our state.
6:42AM MAR 12TH 2014
I hope the Democrats keep bringing out Alex Sink as their standard-barer in Florida elections. She is nothing more than a life time government bureaucrat. Rush Limbaugh once asked, "Have you ever seen a government worker that you would want to hire to run your company?"

Jolly is described as a "Workhorse" and lifetime Bureaucrats like Sink seem to have an aversion to acquiring "Workhorse" traits.

The big question is where will she move next?
10:35AM MAR 12TH 2014
Sink actually spent the majority of her work career in banking. She has a first rate record of serving on boards of charities and enviromental advocacy groups. She is actually far more of a 'workhose" than Jolly.
Sink is however not charismatic to say the least. That CD-13 has about 20,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats and the Democratic voting percentage was slightly above that of the Republicans colors any view of this being somehow an upset. This race is being over analyzed and that Jolly's win was was so narrow means there may well be a way for Democratic victory in November.
sandy oestreich
1:44PM MAR 12TH 2014
Yaaaaaay for Alex Sink.

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