The first phase of the special election to replace the late Rep. Bill Young (R) was held on Tuesday in Pinellas County on the western Tampa Bay peninsula. Though the Democratic race was a non-event because former state CFO and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink was unopposed, the Republican side featured a three-way race.
Lobbyist David Jolly, a former staff member to Congressman Young, won the nomination securing 45 percent of the vote. Mr. Jolly raised the most money (more than $400,000) on the Republican side and enjoyed support from the Young political organization, including the late congressman’s wife, who voiced her support through a television ad.
Placing second was state Rep. Kathleen Peters who never seemed to get her campaign on track. She garnered votes from 31 percent of the Republican electorate.
Bringing up the rear in both votes and finances was former Blue Angels pilot Mark Bircher, who had the backing of former Congressman Allen West (R-Fla.-22) and some Tea Party organizations. Considering his financial receipts were under $100,000, his 21 percent showing was more than respectable.
Mr. Jolly’s victory enables him to advance to the special general election against Ms. Sink. He is the clear underdog despite the seat being held by the House’s most senior Republican for 43 years. Ms. Sink has already raised well over $1 million for the special general election, and her active campaign officially begins tomorrow.
Just under 46,000 voters went to the polls for yesterday’s special Republican primary election. The special general is scheduled for March 11. The winner takes the seat immediately upon election and serves for the remainder of the present Congress. The winner is then eligible to seek a full two-year term in November.
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