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Republican defeats Democrat in key Fla. election

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — Republican David Jolly narrowly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in a special Tampa, Fla. congressional election that drew the attention of Jewish adjuncts of both parties.

Jolly, a lobbyist who was once a staffer for Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), whose death last year triggered the election, on Tuesday bested Sink, a former chief financial officer for the state, 48.5 percent to 46.6 percent, according to an Associated Press report.

Much of the election was fought over the Affordable Care Act, which Sink supported and Jolly opposed. The election drew national attention. Republicans reportedly spent $5 million and Democrats $4 million over what was seen as a bellwether poll ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

The National Jewish Democratic Council made calls and sent flyers to Jewish homes on Sink’s behalf and ran ads based on web searches and in the local Jewish newspaper, the Jewish Press of Pinellas County. It had a dedicated website called “okay and oy vey” contrasting the candidates’ positions on abortion rights, equal pay and safety net programs.

The Republican Jewish Coalition also published ads in the local paper and raised funds. Mel Sembler, a board member of the RJC, was Jolly’s finance committee chairman.

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