CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. (970 WFLA/AP) - Republican David Jolly is the winner of a close congressional election race in Pinellas County to replace the late Rep. Bill Young.
With 225 out of 225 precincts reporting Tuesday evening, unofficial results show Jolly had 48.43 percent of the vote to democrat Alex Sink's 46.56 percent. Libertarian Lucas Overby had 4.83 percent.
Jolly said the first order of business, now that he's been elected, is to open an office in Pinellas.
“This is a one-county community district. For all of the national interests in this race, this is a Pinellas County community. We are much more united than we are divided,” Jolly said.
Jolly is a former aide for Young and a lobbyist. Sink is a former state chief financial officer and was the democratic nominee for governor in 2010, narrowly losing to republican Rick Scott.
In her concession speech, Sink thanked her supporters.
“It’s disappointing, but I do want to say that I just can’t thank enough the love and the affection of the voters of our district and the many, many voters who worked really hard,” Sink said.
The other candidate in the race, Lucas Overby, touched on the impact his campaign made with voters in his Tuesday evening speech.
“Obviously the results fell far shy of what we were hoping for and what we were pushing for but the amount of voters we were able to reach and the amount of people we were able to get re-engaged in the political process is something everybody that worked so hard in this room can really hang their hat on,” Overby said.
He plans to announce soon his intentions in the 13th Congressional District ahead of November.
This was a contest that attracted national attention, millions in outside money, and served as the first test of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul ahead of November's midterm elections. Local issues took a backseat to the health care law as both national parties and outside groups flooded the swing-voting district with ads, phone calls and mailings about “Obamacare.” Democrats and republicans used the race to audition national strategies.
While republicans held the congressional seat for more than four decades until Young's death last year, district's voters favored Obama in the 2008 and 2012.
Young died in October after serving in Congress for more than 40 years.
Photo Credit 970 WFLA/S.P.