David Jolly won the Republican primary in Florida's 13th Congressional District Tuesday night, putting the national spotlight on the swing district ahead of the March midterm election when Jolly will go head to head against Democrat Alex Sink.
Jolly, a lobbyist and former staffer to the late Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., whose seat he is seeking, spent thousands to defeat state Rep. Kathleen Peters and former Marine Brig. Gen. Mark Bircher in a bitter primary. Meanwhile, Sink, Florida's former chief financial officer, ran unopposed on the Democratic ticket and has been able to raise more than $1 million.
Jolly earned nearly 45 percent of the vote while Peters and Bircher received 31 percent and 24 percent of the vote, respectively.
The general-election contest promises to serve as an early trial for what issues will dominate the 2014 midterm election. Jolly, who unilaterally opposes the Affordable Care Act and has advocated to repeal it, has said the sloppy rollout of Obamacare will dominate the race.
"Whether it is her support of Obamacare or her dismal record of wasting money in Florida, Pinellas voters will know that Alex Sink is a risk they can't afford in Congress," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden said in a statement. "Over the coming months, I know David will campaign tirelessly to grow jobs in Pinellas County, fix our nation's economy and fight to stop Obamacare from hurting the people of the 13th District."
Sink, for her part, has said Washington dysfunction is on the forefront of voters' minds. Her campaign will mark Jolly's lobbying career as part of the problem.
"While successful businesswoman Alex Sink has spent her career working across the aisle to get things done, Washington lobbyist David Jolly helped stack the deck for special interests," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement after Jolly's victory.
If Jolly wins, Republicans will build early momentum heading into the November midterm and have evidence that lobbying against Obamacare wins congressional races. If Sink prevails, Democrats will have proved that a campaign against the president's signature law only gets Republicans so far in the country's most competitive districts.