An opportunity for a Surry County native to serve in Congress fell just short Tuesday night when Alex Sink lost a special election in Florida to fill the unexpired term of a representative who died in office.
After reportedly taking an early lead in the race for the seat representing the 13th District of the Sunshine State, the Democratic candidate who was born in Mount Airy finished with 46.7 percent of the vote to 48.5 percent for Republican David Jolly.
Late unofficial returns, as reported by The Associated Press, also showed Libertarian Lucas Overby with 4.8 percent in the election that was accompanied by heavy spending on the part of the two front-runners.
Sink, 65, a Mount Airy High School graduate and the daughter of Kester Sink of this city, was making her second stab at a major political office in Florida since 2010, when she ran unsuccessfully for governor. The Wake Forest University graduate had been elected chief financial officer for that state in 2006 after a long career in the banking industry.
As reported by The Associated Press, Sink addressed about 200 subdued supporters at a hotel in St. Petersburg after the election result became apparent. Joined by her adult children, she thanked her campaign team and the thousands of volunteers who worked for her.
“We know that life brings many challenges. It brings many opportunities. My values have always been to do good for my family and for my community,” Sink said.
“We don’t know what the future holds,” she added, “but I’ll do what I’ve always done and continue to serve my community.”
Tuesday’s special election in Florida’s 13th District, which covers the Tampa area, was necessitated by the death of Rep. Bill Young, a Republican who succumbed to cancer last October after serving in Congress since 1971.
It was considered an early barometer for widespread congressional elections to be held this fall which will decide the control of the U.S. Senate and House. The Florida election also was seen as a litmus test for Obamacare, something Jolly, the Republican, campaigned heavily on in his race against Sink.
The diverse makeup of Florida’s populace lent credence to the notion that it could foreshadow what happens on a national scale later this year.
Reports from Florida indicated that while Jolly focused on his GOP base, Sink sought to reach out to those at all points on the political spectrum. This included the so-called “Rockefeller Republicans” with more moderate to liberal leanings than the party mainstream.