The GOP establishment got its preferred candidate in a Florida special election when Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) defeated state Rep. Kathleen Peters in a Republican primary earlier this month. Jolly is a former staffer for deceased Rep. Bill Young who has been a lobbyist in DC for the past several years. He faces Democrat Alex Sink in the March 11th primary to fill out the remainder of Young’s term. Democrats are capitalizing on his lobbying past.
The Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee has dropped $200,000 on a TV ad that highlights the challenge of moving from K Street to Capitol Hill. “Rep. David Jolly (R-FL)’s proud to be a lobbyist,” says the ad. “Is Jolly proud of lobbying for special interests that received over 3 million in taxpayer-funded earmarks? Or the firm lobbying for hundreds of millions for a dictator — in Pakistan?”
The district, Florida 13, is centered in the St. Petersburg area and is considered very competitive. President Obama won the district in 2008 and 2012. Sink, the Democrat nominee, is the former Democrat nominee for Governor and will have a large fundraising advantage over Jolly. In addition to the DCCC, Emily’s List is expected to spend a considerable amount to elect Sink.
The district remains marginally Republican, however. Obama’s low polling numbers and the increasing unpopularity of ObamaCare still gives the GOP a good shot at keeping the seat. A long-time Hill staffer and lobbyists may be about the worst profile for a candidate, however.
The national GOP establishment has convinced itself that a few flawed candidates are the source of their recent political troubles. While that is certainly true in a few cases, it is a very small part of the GOP’s problems. Nominating uninspiring candidates who offer simply to continue the status quo is a far more serious problem.