Florida’s 13th: The lesson for the GOP is…


WASHINGTON, March 15, 2015 — This last week, Florida’s 13th Congressional District had a special election to replace the late Congressman C.W. “Bill” Young who died in October of last year. 

Some heralded the election as a bellwether to determine how the 2014 Mid-Term elections will go.

Calling Florida 13 a “bellwether” is simply wrong. This district had been held by Republicans for thirty one years. The shape of the district changed due to redistricting, but this was still a GOP district. Bill Young had only represented this district since 2013. He had been in Congress in various Florida districts since 1973.

That district went for Barack Obama in the 2012 election by a slight margin.

READ ALSO: Jolly wins Florida House seat for GOP; Dems get harsh Obamacare lesson

It is not a shock that the GOP won this election. However, there are a couple of takeaways for the GOP and there is a lesson they need to learn quickly.

In Florida Alex Sink ran on Obamacare. Anyone who’s followed the saga of Obamacare could tell you that is a bad idea. Republican David Jolly ran against it.

Because of outside funding, Sink went into the campaign with a significant cash advantage.  Though Jolly eventually caught up towards the end, he faced most of this campaign on the short end of the money war.

There are lessons to be learned and Republicans need to learn them early.

READ ALSO: Democrat Rule 2009-2011: Just what did they do? Really, not very much

The most important lesson is that this election is not about Obamacare. It is about jobs. Ronald Reagan summed it up best in 1980 when he said, “A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. A recovery is when President Carter loses his job.”

When Republicans won big in 1980 and 1994, they had something. They had a specific, positive plan. The Republicans lack that now and need to come up with something quickly.

The GOP establishment needs to come to conservatives on bended knee. Conservatives are the base of the party and people from Mitch McConnell to John Boehner all the way down have been making war on the base. There are a lot of conservatives who are quite willing to stay home this fall.

In Kentucky, Mitch McConnell is crushing Matt Bevin in the primary. One poll puts him ahead by forty points. He is either tied with or slightly trailing his Democrat opponent for the fall. All Allison Grimes needs to win is for the conservatives in Kentucky to either stay home or go third party.

Finally, the GOP has to work on avoiding the third party vote splits. In Florida 13, there was a third party candidate, but he was not able to siphon off enough votes from David Jolly to allow Alex Sink to win.

Last November, Virginia held its gubernatorial election. Democrat Terry McAuliffe beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli by somewhat over 56,000 votes. The problem for the Republicans was there was also a “Libertarian” on the ballot, Robert Sarvis who took 146,000 votes.

It is likely that most of the votes Savis took would have gone to Cuccinelli.  Sarvis was placed on the ballot thanks to the efforts of an Obama backer, millionaire Joe Liemandt, who paid to have professional petition circulators get out and get the signatures needed to put Sarvis on the ballot.

READ ALSO: Explaining liberty to low-information voters: A simple meme for Socialists

Sarvis effectively cost the Republicans the Governor’s mansion in Virginia. What is good for the left is good for the right. The GOP backers should help some groups like the Green Party get on the ballot in competitive districts and let them siphon some votes away from the Democrats.

After all, all is fair in love, war and politics.

Florida 13 sends a message. The Republicans better understand the message. They can win.  They can keep the House and they can even take the Senate this year. But simply running as the Party opposed to Obamacare isn’t going to cut it.

The GOP has to remember Reagan’s words and remember the big picture. They have to go back to the party that raises a banner of bold colors, not just pale pastels.

Until they do, this election is not over and the GOP stands as much a chance of losing this fall as winning.

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Judson Phillips is the founder of Tea Party Nation, one of the largest Tea Party Groups in the country and the number one national tea party site on the Internet. A lawyer by profession, Judson has been involved in politics since his teens. “Ronald Reagan inspired me,” he says. Judson became involved in the Tea Party movement in February 2009 after hearing Rick Santelli’s rant on CNBC. “I heard there was going to be a Tea Party in Chicago inspired by Santelli, but didn’t know if anyone was doing a rally in Nashville where I was based. Finally I emailed Michelle Malkin and asked her if there was a Tea Party in Nashville. Malkin sent an email back saying, ‘No, why don’t you organize one?’ I did.” The first Tea Party in Nashville was held late February 2009 which drew a crowd of about 600. Judson then organized the Tax Day Tea Party in Nashville, which drew over 10,000 people into downtown. It was at this time that Tea Party Nation was formed. Later that year, Judson decided to bring activists from across the country together, so he organized the first National Tea Party Convention in February 2010, which featured Alaska’s former Governor and Republican Vice Presidential Nominee, Sarah Palin as it’s keynote speaker. He currently manages the Tea Party Nation website, writes several daily columns and is working on more projects than any one person should. He is a frequent guest on cable and broadcast news shows, including on Fox, MSNBC, CNN and others.
  • Ty Lynn Ocell

    Sarvis poll showed he took equally from dems and repubs. But he also took he highest number of independents. The dem who supported Sarvis is another person sick of the 2 party system. CD 13 fell to the establishment republicans who will continue big government polices.

  • 21st Century Pacifist

    While a democrat, I appreciated your factual and clear article. To my surprise it didn’t sound like the hate mongering typical of the Tea Party. Good article.