Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 18, 2014

GOP Dusts Off Old Playbook Against Sink in Florida Special Election

Next year’s special election in Florida’s 13th District is likely to be very competitive and expensive, but Republicans might be able to save some money on production costs by dusting off some old television ads and reusing them.

Democrats will nominate the state’s former chief financial officer, Alex Sink, in the January primary. But her failed run for governor in 2010 will serve as the blueprint for the GOP playbook three years later. And it’s remarkable how applicable the ads could be today.

“You worked your whole life. You saved. It’s your pension. You earned it. But with Alex Sink in charge, Florida’s pension fund has lost $24 billion. That’s not a typo. Twenty-four billion, gone,” according to the narrator in the GOP ad. “Experts even warned Sink that she was making risky investments. Sink gave bonuses to staffers. They were hired to invest our seniors’ money, lost billions, then Sink gave them bonuses. And now she wants a promotion?”

The issues of the pension fund and bonuses will come up next year, no matter what the political landscape looks like. But a second ad from 2010 is also striking for its relevance next year if the Affordable Care Act remains a polarizing, and even unpopular, piece of legislation.

“I need you to raise money. I need you to walk and knock on doors. Whatever it takes, to make sure Alex Sink is the next governor of Florida,” President Barack Obama said in the ad in a clip from a campaign event. The narrator continued, “Maybe that’s because Sink’s supported Obama’s government takeover of health care. Or because Sink supported Obama’s trillion-dollar stimulus bill, while it gave us big debts and no jobs. What will Obama do to make sure Sink is the next governor of Florida?”

The ad jumps back to the original comments by the president, “Whatever it takes.”

Democrats are right to point out that even though Sink was dramatically outspent by Republican Rick Scott and 2010 was a terrible Democratic year, she still won the 13th District, 48.6 percent to 46.5 percent. Republicans are headed for a potentially draining primary between former Hill aide and lobbyist David Jolly and state Rep. Kathleen Peters. And the next round of budget and debt ceiling negotiations could cause voters to refocus on the warts of the Republican Party.

But similar to how Republicans couldn’t grasp the concept that the 2012 election could look anything like 2008, Democrats should be careful not to assume that 2010 can’t be re-created as the president’s popularity trends downward.

Florida’s 13th District is rated Pure Tossup by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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