Workhorse David Jolly, Blundering Alex Sink
Around the State
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.
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.