Mar 12, 2014 - 3:15pm

The Meaning of David Jolly’s Victory in Florida’s 13th District


Senior Advisor, Political and Federation Relations

Following David Jolly’s victory in the special election in Florida’s 13th district, there’s been a lot of chatter about what the results mean. Is it a national barometer for races to come? Is this race a bellwether for candidates that supported Obamacare? It’s hard to say this early in the cycle, but supporters of free enterprise should be encouraged.

Voters in Pinellas County, Florida were presented with a very clear choice between two candidates with starkly different views on the role and size of the federal government. David Jolly, a former aide to the late Rep. Bill Young, comes from the small business community, and he focused his campaign on his pro-business record and his deep appreciation for free enterprise and policies that promote growth and hiring.

Jolly’s victory indicates that a platform focused on generating jobs and growth can trump campaign disadvantages. Jolly’s opponent, Alex Sink, was a well-known seasoned politician who ran for governor four years ago. Sink raised more than double the money Jolly collected, and she outspent Jolly on the airwaves by about 4 to 1.

Washington is starved for free market-minded policymakers like Jolly, and that is why national organizations rallied behind his candidacy. The U.S. Chamber was one of the first groups to get involved in the race, holding an endorsement event at a local small business, EEI Manufacturing, in early February. We were proud to stand alongside job creators from the community and hear their real concerns about how regulations and mandates from Washington are breeding uncertainty and jeopardizing growth.  

Even before absentee ballots were mailed, we aired an ad featuring Governor Jeb Bush voicing his support for Jolly’s campaign. Bush’s ad effectively reached conservative voters; the digital ad was viewed online more than 80,000 times, and the broadcast version was seen by millions.

We localized the election by spotlighting the impact of Obamacare in the Tampa Bay area, especially the hundreds of billions in cuts to Medicare Advantage – a key benefit program for Pinellas County seniors. The unpopularity of Obamacare and its continued negative impact across the country demonstrate that this issue will continue to be a deciding factor in key races across the country.

We’re proud to stand with David Jolly and congratulate him on his well-earned victory. He will fight to get regulations, taxes, and spending under control, and the Chamber, on behalf of the business community, looks forward to working with him to make that happen. 

About the Author

About the Author

Senior Advisor, Political and Federation Relations

Rob Engstrom is a senior political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.