Republican David Jolly narrowly defeated Democrat Alex Sink on Tuesday in a Tampa-area House race largely seen as a critical test for ObamaCare.
With nearly 100 percent of the vote counted, Jolly had 48.5 percent of the vote to Sink's 46.7 percent. Libertarian Lucas Overby had 4.8 percent.
The race to replace the late Rep. Bill Young was considered a tossup, and was cast as a political bellwether, and a testing ground for each party's messaging strategy -- which revolves in part around the Affordable Care Act.
Jolly's election night headquarters in Clearwater Beach erupted into loud cheers as it became clear he was the winner. In his victory speech, Jolly simultaneously struck a conciliatory tone and expressed gratitude for his mentor, Young, and Young's family. Jolly was introduced by former "Price is Right" game show host Bob Barker, via video. Young's two adult sons were also onstage with Jolly, and he embraced them at the end of his speech.
Jolly didn't mention the issue that dominated much of the campaign — the president's health care package — and instead said that Pinellas County must work together.
"This race is not about defending a broken agenda in Washington or advancing a broken agenda in Washington. This race is about serving the people in our own community," he said. "Let's dispense with the rancor and vitriol of the last five months."
Jolly thanked Sink and Overby and said it was "OK" that tens of thousands of others voted for his opponents.
"While this campaign at times seemed to be partisan, your next congressman is not partisan," he said.
Meanwhile, national Republican groups swiftly got to work casting Jolly's victory as a blow to ObamaCare and those who support it.
“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," said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore. "Pinellas County voters have made the right choice; David will be a dedicated and thoughtful representative for them in Congress.”
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