Florida's 13th Congressional District special election, 2014

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Special Elections to the 113th Session of Congress, 2013-2014

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The 13th Congressional District of Florida held a special election for the U.S. House in 2014.

The special election was held to fill the vacancy left by the death of Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R).

Young died on October 18, 2013, following complications resulting from a chronic injury.[1] At the time of his death, Young was the longest serving House Republican.[2][3]

Under Florida law, Governor Rick Scott (R) had no authority to appoint a replacement, but called a special election to fill Young's seat.[4][5]

Florida is one of 12 states to use a strictly closed primary process, in which the selection of a party's candidates in an election is limited to registered party members.[6][7][8]

Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
November 19, 2013[9]
January 14, 2014
March 11, 2014


General election

Democratic primary

Republican primary

Third party candidates

Did not qualify

Rumored candidates

Withdrew from race

Declined to run

Election results

General election

U.S. House, Florida District 13 General Special Election, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngDavid Jolly 48.5% 88,294
     Democratic Alex Sink 46.6% 84,877
     Libertarian Lucas Overby 4.8% 8,799
Total Votes 181,970
Source: Unoffocial Results via Associated Press

Republican primary

U.S. House, Florida District 13 Republican Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngDavid Jolly 44.6% 20,337
Kathleen Peters 31% 14,120
Mark Bircher 24.5% 11,158
Total Votes 45,615
Source: Unofficial results via Associated Press[33]


David Jolly

  • Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker endorsed Jolly on November 10, 2013. In the endorsement he said, “We need a leader who will be a strong voice for our community and a strong leader in Washington to help turn back the tide of irresponsible federal spending and debt. David Jolly knows Pinellas and has worked to support Congressman Young’s many efforts – from industry to tourism to the support of our veterans. David won’t need a guidebook to know where to start and what to do.”[37]
  • Former “Price is Right” game show host Bob Barker endorsed Jolly in a campaign ad on December 11, 2013.[38]
    • “Because with Jolly, the choice is right,” Barker quipped in the ad.[38]
  • Marco Rubio: Robocalls to voters featuring Sen. Marco Rubio began on February 13, 2014, asking them to support David Jolly (R) in the special election.[39] The calls were sponsored by YG Network.[39] Rubio campaigned with Jolly at a senior living center in Seminole on February 10, 2014.[39]
    • "Florida families and seniors can count on David Jolly to help grow our economy and protect vital programs like Social Security and Medicare. By now, you should have received your absentee ballot in the mail. I'm asking you to vote for David Jolly and to return your ballot by mail today."[39]

Other endorsements included:[37][42]

  • Former U.S. Ambassador Mel Sembler
  • Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense and U.S. Secretary of the Navy Gordon England,
  • Rep. Richard Nugent
  • State Representative Larry Ahern
  • Former Pinellas County Commissioner and School Board member Nancy Bostock
  • City of Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters
  • Former Pinellas Park Mayor Bill Mischler
  • The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
    • SAFE (Save America'’s Free Enterprise) Trust

Mark Bircher

Kathleen Peters

  • Peters was endorsed by one of Young’s sons, Bill Young II.[43][35][36]

Alex Sink

  • Kathy Castor: On November 27, 2013, Rep. Kathy Castor announced that she would host a fundraiser for Alex Sink (D).[45] The event took place on December 17, 2013. Contributions ranged from $5,000 to be a chair, $1,000 to be a host or $250 for admission.[45]
  • On December 19, 2013, Sink announced an endorsement from Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC), the political arm of the National Association of Realtors.[46][47] In a statement, Pinellas Realtors Organization chair Brandi Gabbard said Alex Sink’s hard work on housing issues during her business career and her tenure as Florida Chief Financial Officer as the primary reasons for their support.[46]
    • Alex Sink has been a strong leader for REALTORS® and homeowners, including leading the charge to ensure that affordable, long-term financing is available to prospective homebuyers. She has a proven record of working with Republicans and Democrats to get results for Florida families,” said Gabbard. "In Congress, I have every confidence Alex Sink will continue to stand up for homeowners and REALTORS® and ensure our voices are heard. She will protect the mortgage interest deduction and equally important will work to return fairness to the flood insurance market,” said Gabbard.[46]

Other endorsements and contributions came from:[48][49][50]


General election

General election match-up
Poll David Jolly (R) Alex Sink (D)Lucas Overby (L)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
March 7-9, 2014
PMI Inc.
February 25-27, 2014
St. Pete Polls
February 25, 2014
Fabizio, Lee and Associates
February 17-18, 2014
St. Leo University
February 9-11, 2014
Braun Research
February 4-9, 2014
January 24, 2014
McLaughlin & Associates
January 21, 2014
St. Pete Polls
January 15, 2014
St. Pete Polls
November 5, 2013
AVERAGES 41.9% 45% 3.6% 9% +/-4.13 704.9
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org

Potential general election

Potential general election match-up
Poll Neil Brickfield (R) Alex Sink (D)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
St. Pete Polls
November 5, 2013
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org
Potential general election match-up
Poll Frank Hibbard (R) Alex Sink (D)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
St. Pete Polls
November 5, 2013
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org

Republican primary

Republican primary candidates
Poll Neil Brickfield David JollyFrank HibbardKathleen PetersMark BircherSomeone elseUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
St. Pete Polls
January 9, 2014
Human Events and Gravis Marketing
January 8, 2014
St. Pete Polls
November 18, 2013
St. Pete Polls
November 5, 2013
AVERAGES 4% 32.18% 3.75% 17.3% 12.83% 14.98% 14.98% +/-3.5 990
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org

Democratic primary

Democratic primary candidates
Poll Jessica Ehrlich Alex SinkSomeone elseUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
St. Pete Polls
November 5, 2013
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org


Climate change

On February 27, 2014, the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club jointly spent $350,000 on an ad attacking Jolly’s stance on climate change.[52]

1989 accident

On February 24, 2014, Jolly acknowledged that as a 16-year-old driver, he struck and killed a pedestrian in a 1989 accident.[53]

Jolly said of the accident: “It took several years for me to get to a place of peace, but not something anybody would ever get over.”[53]

Jolly donations to Democrats

David Jolly (R) reportedly donated nearly $30,000 to the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates since 2006, with the biggest contribution made to former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., but other donations to Dick Durbin, Barbara Mikulski and late Sen. Daniel Inouye.[54]

“David has been a strong Republican supporter as the numbers show. David also has personal relationships with Democrats and Independents, and in non-competitive races he has supported them. David has said from day one that this race is about working together with Republicans, Democrats and Independents all for the betterment of Pinellas County,” said Sarah Bascom, a spokeswoman for Jolly.[54]


Alex Sink

Sink's first ad of the campaign, "Working Together."

Sink's ad, "Solutions," criticized Jolly as a lobbyist for special interests.

Sink's February 2014 ad, "Record."

Sink's March 2014 ad, "Every Place I Go."


On January 17, 2014, reports circulated that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) reserved more than $200,000 in air time between January 21-27, 2014, in support of Alex Sink (D).[55]

Only a few days later, on January 21, 2014, the DCCC released an ad targeting David Jolly (R).[56] The ad, with an estimated cost of $200,000, attacked Jolly for his prior experience as a lobbyist, and featured a clip of Jolly saying he was “proud of the work [he’s] done” as a lobbyist.[56]

On March 5, 2014, the group reported that it spent an additional $587,561 on media production and media buys opposing Jolly.[57]


The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) made its first independent expenditure in January 2014, with a $100,000 online ad attacking Sink for her use of a taxpayer-funded plane during her time in state government.[55]

Jolly attempted to distance himself from the ad shortly after it was released. He said, "We sent out a mailing and I said to our people I don't want anything about her trip to the Bahamas on my mailing. The RNCC wants to do that, but were not doing that. I understand there is some nuance it - the fact that she took the plane from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and then took her own flight to get to the Bahamas."[58]

DCCC's March 2014 ad, "Profiting At Our Expense."

NRCC's January 2014 ad, "Another Tax and Spender Florida Can't Afford."

NRCC's February 2014 ad, "The Choice."

The NRCC launched another ad, costing an estimated $725,000, for David Jolly on January 22, 2014. The advertising campaign continued through February 2014.[59]

On January 22, 2014, the NRCC released a $230,000 ad buy against Alex Sink, criticizing her "cute ads" featuring her father and accuses Sink of being in favor of raising taxes.[60] The ad, "Another Tax and Spender Florida Can't Afford," came as part of a larger $725,000 ad buy by the NRCC in January 2014.[60]

On February 22, 2014, the group released an ad that aimed to highlight differences between Sink and Jolly. An announced in the ad started with, "David Jolly: Cut spending, stop Obamacare. Alex Sink: More spending, defend Obamacare. She’s fighting for them, not for us.”[61]

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

On January 3, 2014, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released an ad for David Jolly featuring former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush (R).[62]

In the ad, Bush said, "Dave's the best candidate to go to Congress, fight wasteful spending and help create good jobs.[62]

The group released a second ad in February 2014, "Alex Sink Supports Obamacare." The ad linked Alex Sink to Obamacare and the approximately 300,000 insurance policies that were canceled in the state.[63] FEC reports show the group spent $400,000 for television and online advertisements supporting Jolly between February 4 and March 11, 2014.[63]

The final ad from the group came on February 27, 2014, which portrayed Sink as a “rubber stamp” for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.[64][65]

“Defeat Sink, Rubber Stamp for Pelosi,” the ad said, after attacking Sink for supporting President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and its expansion of Medicaid.[64]

U.S. Chamber of Commerce's January 2014 ad featuring Jeb Bush.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce's February 2014 ad, "Alex Sink supports Obamacare."

U.S. Chamber of Commerce's February 2014 ad, "Alex Sink: Medicare Cuts."


American Action Network (AAN) released an ad against Alex Sink on February 3, 2014.[66]

American Action Network's February 2014 ad, "Alex Sink: Mess."

House Majority PAC

House Majority PAC released an ad on February 10, 2014, criticizing David Jolly for lobbying for a group that has pushed to privatize Social Security.[67]

The ad came after thousands of senior citizens in Pinellas County received robocalls from the Florida Democratic Party in early February 2014. The calls stated:[68]

"Hi this is Greta from the Florida Democratic Party. Washington Lobbyist David Jolly’s radical repeal of the Affordable Care Act would bring back the Medicare Prescription Drug Donut Hole, forcing seniors to pay more for medicine – eliminating 186 million dollars in savings for hundreds of thousands of seniors in Florida alone. That’s why USA Today wrote that Lobbyist Jolly’s “repeal would mean higher costs. But that’s not all: Lobbyist Jolly also supports privatizing Social Security, which could force seniors to gamble with their retirement on the stock market, and Jolly even praised the Ryan Budget that turns Medicare into a costly voucher program. Pinellas seniors just can’t trust Washington Lobbyist David Jolly."

Following the ad, the AARP clarified that it did not have anything to do with commercial, which showed an AARP memo with the organization's logo featured prominently on the page.[69]Florida AARP State Director Jeff Johnson said in a news release:

“We were not aware of, nor does AARP have any involvement with, any political campaign including the recent District 13 ad from the House Majority Pac that mentions AARP. AARP does not endorse candidates, have a political action committee (PAC), or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. We work with members of all political parties to help improve the lives of Americans and Floridians 50+. We have a proud 28-year history of nonpartisan voter engagement, providing voters with information on where the candidates stand on issues important to our members and their families, so they can make their own decisions on Election Day."[69]

The House Majority PAC released another ad on February 14, 2014, that featured an elderly couple, retirees Elizabeth and Rod Snedeker, criticizing David Jolly on Social Security.[70][71][72]

David Jolly lobbied for a group that wanted to risk Social Security in the stock market. He still wants it on the table,” Rod Snedeker said in the ad.[70]

Elizabeth Snedeker added, “When the market crashed, we lost 40 percent of our savings. I don’t think it’s right for David Jolly to risk Social Security money in the stock market.”[70]

House Majority PAC's February 2014 ad, "Privatized."

House Majority PAC's February 2014 ad, "We Saw."

American Crossroads's February 2014 ad, "Sunk."

American Crossroads

American Crossroads launched a $357,000 ad buy on February 18, 2014, featuring seniors attacking Democratic nominee Alex Sink on three issues. The ad addresses three of the top issues of the election: issues with Florida's pension fund while she was Florida’s chief financial officer, jobs cut while she was a bank executive and for a taxpayer-funded plane Republicans say she used for inappropriate personal trips.[73]

Primary election

State Senator Kathleen Peters released her first ad of the campaign on December 6, 2013. In the ad, Peters criticized Jolly, saying "the choice is clear: A Washington lobbysit who has put his special interest clients first; or a local community leader who has put Pinellas families first."[74] The ad, costing an estimated $22,000, came just a day after David Jolly released his first ad buy of the campaign, costing just $6,000.[75]

Kathleen Peters' first ad of the campaign, released in December 2013.

Campaign donors

Alex Sink

Alex Sink (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Pre-Special[76]January 2, 2014$0$0$(88,787)$1,054,488
Year End[77]January 31, 2014$1,054,488$90,754$(2,393)$1,142,848
Running totals

David Jolly

Outside groups

  • Three groups— American Crossroads, American Action Network and YG Network — joined forces in January 2013 to launch a $1.2 million ad campaign for Republican nominee David Jolly.[85] American Crossroads and American Action Network contributed $500,000, while YG Network invested $200,000.[85]
    • “This is a toss-up race. It’s a must-win for Democrats and we see an opportunity for Republicans to be victorious,” said Brian Walsh, president of American Action Network.[85]
    • “This has become a far more competitive race than anyone initially expected. The Democrats were hoping to get momentum here, they haven’t, and it’s important that we push back hard," said Steven Law, president of American Crossroads.[85]
    • Chris Bond, a YG Network spokesman, said: “For liberals, this is a must-win race, and it speaks volumes that they’re fighting for their lives right now…We’re going to make sure folks are fully aware of Alex Sink’s liberal agenda.”[85]
  • Prior to the joining of the three groups, Democrats outspent Republicans in the race. As of January 2013, they had reserved more than $3 million in advertising, while Republicans had reserved less than $900,000.[85]
  • In a nine day span in February 2014, outside groups spent $1.1 million on the race, mainly to Jolly's benefit.[86]
  • As of February 2014, a total of seven outside groups have spent more than six figures on television advertising.[87]


David Jolly (R), Alex Sink (D) and Lucas Overby (L) participated in an hour-long debate at St. Petersburg College on February 3, 2014.[92][93]

The debate, sponsored by AARP, was the first chance for the three candidates to directly address each other.[92]

District history

Candidate ballot access
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See also: Florida's 13th Congressional District elections, 2012

Due to redistricting, Young ran in the 2012 election for the U.S. House to represent Florida's 13th District. Young won the nomination in the Republican primary on August 14, 2012. Jessica Ehrlich ran as a Democrat. He was re-elected on November 6, 2012.[94]

U.S. House, Florida District 13 General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngC.W. Bill Young Incumbent 57.6% 189,605
     Democratic Jessica Ehrlich 42.4% 139,742
Total Votes 329,347
Source: Florida Secretary of State "Official Election Results, 2012 General Election"
U.S. House, Florida District 13 Republican Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngC.W. Bill Young Incumbent 69.1% 39,381
Darren Ayres 18.5% 10,544
Madeline Vance 12.4% 7,049
Total Votes 56,974


On November 2, 2010, Vern Buchanan won re-election to the United States House. He defeated James T. Golden (D) in the general election.[95]

U.S. House, Florida District 13 General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngVern Buchanan incumbent 68.8% 183,341
     Democratic James T. Golden 31.2% 83,123
Total Votes 266,464

See also

External links


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