Republican David Jolly, who was assailed by his own party over his choice of girlfriend, won a special congressional election on Tuesday to fill his former boss’ seat, CNN reported.
Jolly defeated former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink by just over 3,400 votes.
As MSNBC host Rachel Maddow noted on Monday, anonymous members of the National Republican Congressional Committee had complained to the press about Jolly. The dispute reportedly began when Jolly expressed disagreement with a $500,000 commercial the committee paid to produce.
Politico subsequently reported that several “Washington Republicans” had criticized Jolly’s campaign style, as well as the “poor optics of a just-divorced, 41-year-old candidate accompanied on the campaign trail by a girlfriend 14 years his junior.”
The race was also seen as a possible early indicator of how well the Republican tactic of describing the Affordable Care Act — a/k/a “Obamacare” — as a danger to the country would work in a campaign setting.
Jolly was also one of several GOP candidates who received a deceptive website from the committee designed to look like a fundraiser for Sink while in fact raising money for their own campaigns. The sites were later revised after being criticized.
Jolly’s win means Democrats still need to capture 17 House seats in the upcoming midterm elections to gain a majority. He is scheduled to finish Rep. Bill Young’s (R-FL) term. Young died in October 2013.
[Image via David Jolly campaign Facebook page]