Clearwater – A spirited race to replace the late Rep. Bill Young in the U.S. House is considered a proving ground for each party’s political messages and a possible bellwether for the midterm elections. Democrat Alex Sink is countering attacks on the president’s health care overhaul by accusing Republicans of threatening programs for the elderly. The GOP’s David Jolly has responded with a TV spot featuring his elderly mother and aunt and says “protecting their Social Security means everything to me.”
While Republicans held the congressional seat for four decades until Young’s death last year, the district’s voters favored Obama in the past two presidential elections. Voter registration in the district is 37 percent Republican, 35 percent Democrat and 24 percent independent. More than one in four registered voters is older than 65, and a population that could make up more than half of those who cast ballots.
The stretch of beach towns and retirement communities is like a test market for this fall’s mid-term election. The question pundits are pondering is whether Democrats can blunt GOP attacks on the affordable care act by accusing Republicans of threatening popular programs for the elderly.
In all, the candidates, their party committees and several outside groups have collectively spent almost $10 million blanketing the airwaves with largely negative ads focused on health care costs and social security. The Tampa Bay Times Alex Leary reports that the late Bill Young spent a total of $6.7 million in the 17 campaigns he ran to represent Pinellas County.
The ballotting for Congressional District 13 ends Tuesday.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.