You will no doubt be hearing a lot of pontificating about last night’s special election over in Pinellas County. And some pundits will tell you it was a referendum on Obamacare.
I have no doubt that’s one reason David Jolly (above, left) trounced Alex Sink (above, right) in yesterday’s congressional contest. A lot of us codgers live in this part of Florida, and we’ve been told President Obama robbed Medicare Advantage of billions to provide health care for poor (code word for minority) families. That means higher copays and deductibles could be looming for us, and I guess a lot of us aren’t that self-sacrificing.
The president had no choice, I suppose. There were so many “fiscally conservative” Democrats in Congress – and so much Republican resistance to taxing the rich – that he was obliged to find the money somewhere or his health care reform would never have seen the light of day.
But I think it was Bill Young – the ghost of Bill Young, the legacy of Bill Young – that won the election for Jolly.
I remember Bill Young from my days at the Clearwater Sun and the Tampa Tribune. He was a grand master of the art of political survival. It seemed everybody was a friend of Bill Young. He was personable, affable and approachable. He was always ready to lend a hand when a constituent had a problem. And he brought home the bacon.
Back in those days, individual congress members could add “earmarks” to the annual budget, loading it with projects for their districts. Here’s an excerpt from the AP story announcing his death at 82 years old last October:
Mr. Young brought hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks back to the Tampa Bay area, and built up a military contracting industry in the region, creating jobs and lifting the economy.
It’s no wonder he kept getting re-elected. He served 22 terms in Congress.
David Jolly worked in Young’s office before he became a lobbyist. Many Pinellas voters might remember him from those days. They certainly remember Bill Young.
And I have to wonder if some people voted against Sink because she is a woman. Or because she was a banker. Or because she is not a very good campaigner…
I suspect those are among the reasons she also lost the governor’s race to Rick Scott.
And there’s another troubling factor in yesterday’s loss – a lot of Democrats didn’t bother to vote.
Obviously, there was more to this special election than Obamacare.