ST. PETERSBURG — As U.S. Sen. John McCain’s endorsement of David Jolly in Florida’s Congressional District 13 special election might suggest, a lot of people have their eye on this race. And, in many cases, their money.
“The United States Congress needs principled leaders like David Jolly,” McCain, the former Republican presidential nominee, said in a statement Wednesday. “His experience ensures he will be effective for the people of Pinellas County on day one.”
Jolly called the endorsement “a tremendous honor.”
Democratic nominee Alex Sink has collected a number of state and national endorsements; not having to compete in a primary gave her time to do so. Congressional Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman Schultz have helped her raise money.
Many Republicans, though, were waiting until the primary ended to offer endorsements.
Barely a week after Jolly defeated Mark Bircher and state Rep. Kathleen Peters, more than $1.5 million has been funneled into the race by Republican and Democrat outside groups. After Peters endorsed Jolly this week, signifying local Republicans would unite to back Jolly after a bitter primary fight, money started to flow.
The National Republican Congressional Committee dropped $750,000 on a television ad criticizing Sink.
Sink’s campaign, also being bolstered by ads purchased by outside groups, quickly responded.
“It’s already clear that D.C. groups are willing to say anything, regardless of the facts, to prop up Washington lobbyist Jolly because they know that in Congress lobbyist Jolly would put special interests over Pinellas families,” Sink campaign spokeswoman Ashley Walker said in a written statement.
In addition to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s $200,000 ad buy targeting Jolly’s past as a lobbyist, a SuperPAC that aims to help Democrats get elected to the U.S. House is ready to spend $650,000 on ads to help Sink.