Alex Sink just can't seem to win anything. Four years after her narrow loss to now governor Rick Scott, Sink again came up short yesterday in a special election for Florida's 13th congressional district.
The contest was closely watched across the country. It was widely billed as a bellwether for the national mood on Obamacare, and for whether Democrats could retake the house this fall.
sinks signs suggest not.
Sink lost by two percentage points (48.5 vs. 46.6) to Republican David Jolly, a former lobbyist and assistant to the district's late representative, C.W. Bill Young.
When Young died last fall, the race to replace him quickly turned the Gulf Coast district just west of Tampa into a litmus test for larger issues like Obamacare and the future of the social safety net.
As in her battle against Scott four years ago, Sink had an early lead this time around. With greater name recognition than Jolly and no primary challenger, she raced to an early lead in the polls.
But Jolly hammered her on Obamacare, which he demanded be repealed. Sink said the Affordable Care Act should be fixed, not axed, and begrudgingly defended it as an improvement over the days when insurance companies denied people coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
It didn't take long for the national money to roll in, all $12 million of it, making it one of the most expensive House races ever.
Conservative groups such as American Crossroads backed Jolly, but Democrats still outspent Republicans by almost $1 million on the race.
Jolly won't have much time in Washington D.C., however. He has to defend his seat in just eight months.
Sink's loss will especially worry the president because the 13th district had been leaning left in recent years. Obama himself won it both times. And even Sink carried it back in 2010.
And although the retiree-heavy district is still more Republican than Democratic, it's bluer than the crucial battleground states in the Senate (Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina).
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Four years ago, Sink lost as Republicans won the House. Now, with the House seemingly out of play and the Senate on the line, Democrats are starting to get that Sinking feeling once again.