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Friday, October 24, 2014

What a special election in Florida means for Democrats

A special election in a congressional district in Florida shouldn’t concern New Yorkers. However, the election to fill the seat made vacant by the death of 40-year Republican Congressman Bill Young in the Tampa area was one of the most important special elections in years.

President Obama is over a year into his second term, and the honeymoon is a distant memory. His administration continues in freefall. His foreign policy in Ukraine, Syria and Iran is failing. Obamacare remains a debacle, and day after day it remains unlikely that it will ever be saved in its current form. So the special election became a bellwether for the country.

Florida Republican David Jolly, a former staffer of Young’s and a lobbyist, ran on one issue: Obamacare. He was a flawed candidate who ran an unspectacular campaign. His opponent, Alex Sink, the former chief financial officer for the state of Florida and a one-time Democratic candidate for governor, was an established candidate with a good track record.

In addition, over the course of the great Young’s four decades in office, the demographics of his district changed dramatically. President Obama won the district in 2008 and 2012; in fact, Sink won the district when she ran for governor. On paper, she should have won this race. Both sides spent millions of dollars, and outside money poured in. But Sink lost.

This wasn’t an election about local issues. Greg Walden, the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, said of Jolly’s win, “Tonight, one of Nancy Pelosi’s most prized candidates was ultimately brought down because of her unwavering support for Obamacare, and that should be a loud warning for other Democrats running coast to coast.”

Walden is right. As it stands right now, Democratic candidates don’t have a lot going for them in November. Every candidate who supported Obamacare should be scared. When you add to that the precarious state of our foreign policy, candidates would be foolish to align themselves with very many doctrines of the Obama administration.

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