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The national media this morning are calling Democrat Alex Sink’s surprise defeat in a bellwether special Congressional election yesterday a foreboding referendum on Obamacare. Perhaps this is so, but only slightly less noteworthy is Sink supporters’ failed attempt to turn victorious Republican David Jolly’s global warming skepticism into a political albatross.
Having just moved into Florida’s U.S. House District 13, I was shocked these past two weeks to discover how global warming became the central issue dominating television’s political commercials. Granted, I haven’t been watching much television, as moving from one house to another has been nearly a full-time job. Nevertheless, it seemed I couldn’t go 15 minutes into my limited viewing schedule without seeing the same Sierra Club/League of Conservation Voters commercial excoriating Jolly for being a global warming skeptic. I honestly can’t recall seeing any other political commercials these past two weeks, either pro-Sink or pro-Jolly. However, I must have seen the global warming commercial at least a dozen times.
Most campaign analysts and all pre-election polls named Sink the favorite in the race. Sink held statewide office as Florida Chief Financial Officer from 2007-2010. In 2010, one of the bloodiest political years for Democrats ever, Sink came within a hair of winning Florida’s gubernatorial election. Sink had a tremendous name recognition advantage over Jolly, a former lobbyist who nobody had even heard of six months ago. Sink’s campaign outspent Jolly. And Sink decided to counter anti-Obamacare sentiment by defining Jolly as a scientifically dangerous climate change skeptic.
If there is any congressional district in America where Democrats should theoretically get the most bang for their buck selling global warming alarmism, Florida District 13 should be it. The district is urban and decidedly moderate. The Tea Party barely exists here. Northeastern and Rust Belt snowbirds dominate the demographics. President Obama carried the district in 2008 and 2012. And global warming alarmists’ constant (and erroneous) harping about sea level rise and hurricanes should prove especially scary to voters in District 13, which hugs the Gulf of Mexico.
Jolly didn’t even fight back against the constant global warming political onslaught. He never answered the Sierra Club/League of Conservation Voters attacks with a defense of his views on global warming, energy and the environment. He simply let Sink’s supporters sink their political war chest on what turned out to be a loser political strategy. Maybe Sink, despite all her advantages, was unavoidably going to suffer the political upset, anyway. Then again, maybe not. What we do know is a well-known Democrat who had recently served in statewide office lost to a lobbyist running his first political campaign after global warming became the most visible campaign advertising issue in the weeks leading up to the election.
Interestingly enough, the Florida District 13 election occurred just as the Senate Democratic Climate Action Task Force wrapped up an all-night session in which 30 Democratic senators filibustered to protest the Democratic-controlled Senate’s failure to pass a carbon tax. Democratic U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mark Begich (D-AK) and Kay Hagan (D-NC), all of whom face difficult reelection contests in the upcoming November elections, stayed conspicuously away from the high-profile hijinks.
Maybe they know something Alex Sink’s supporters should have, but didn’t.
[First published at Forbes.]