U.S. Chamber Goes on Offensive in Florida Congressional Race

Friday, 28 Feb 2014 10:09 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is slamming Florida House Democratic candidate Alex Sink in a new advertisement criticizing her support of Obamacare, and a recent poll it commissioned shows her as being slightly behind Republican nominee David Jolly.

The chamber has spent some $800,000 to back Jolly in the hotly contested race to replace late GOP Rep. Bill Young, The National Journal reported, and the advertisement lambastes Sink, a former Florida chief financial officer, as being a "rubber stamp" for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The ad is running on Florida's airwaves until the March 11 special election,  Politico reported.

Story continues below video.



In the ad, Sink is criticized for supporting Obamacare and Medicare cuts, a message being used in many Republicans' advertising this election cycle.

"We think it's important that the voters of Pinellas County [Florida] know where both candidates stand on issues that impact the Pinellas County economy … including Obamacare," Chamber adviser Scott Reed told Politico. "Sink supported Obamacare, which has resulted in hundreds of billions in cuts from Medicare and Medicare Advantage."

But Sink spokeswoman Ashley Walker told Politico the ad was "misleading," saying Sink actually opposed cuts to Medicare.

"[It] is a wild distortion of Alex Sink's position on the Affordable Care Act," said Walker. "Alex wants to keep what works and fix what doesn't, and she opposes these cuts to Medicare Advantage."

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Josh Schwerin also criticized the ad campaign, saying special interest groups and insurance companies are spending millions to help Jolly, a Washington lobbyist, "because he's spent his career fighting for them and that's exactly what he'd do again if they buy him a seat in Congress."

But Republicans aren't the only ones spending money on campaign ads. Thursday, the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club jumped in on the attacks, with an ad slamming Jolly on environmental issues, The Hill reported.

Meanwhile, the chamber's newest poll puts Jolly 2 points ahead of Sink during what's become a neck-in-neck race, The National Journal reported. He scored 44 percent of the 400 likely voters pulled, while she pulled in 42 percent, but the results are within the poll's margin error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

There has only been one independent poll in the race, which was conducted by three local news stations at the beginning of February. That one showed Sink ahead of Jolly by 42 percent to 35 percent.

The St. Petersburg-area district has had its absentee voting going on for several weeks, and Republicans are accounting for 42 percent of votes already cast, Democrats returning 39 percent of ballots.

The U.S. Chamber is one of eight groups money to sway the race, with total outside spending has climbing above $6 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Even more money is expected to flow in ahead of the March 11 election.

Sink's campaign itself has outraised Jolly's in the last couple of months of the race, reports The Hill and she has five times as cash on hand as he does.

From Jan. 1 through Feb. 19, Sink has raised $1.3 million for her campaign, and has $972,000 cash on hand. Jolly raised about half of Sink's totals, with $639,000 coming in. He has $182,000 cash on hand.

Overall, Sink has raised $2.5 million, bringing in $1.1 million to Jolly's $388,000 in the last reporting period.

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