Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby for the U.S. House District 13 seat Tuesday night.
With all precincts reporting, Jolly received 48.43 percent of the vote, while Sink received 46.56 percent. Overby received 4.83 percent of the vote, with 8,799 votes cast for him.
The candidates were vying for the House seat previously held by Congressman C.W. Bill Young. Young, who died in October, served in the House of Representatives from 1971 to 2013.
The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections said voter turnout for the special election was just about 39 percent. Most of those - about 26 percent - were from voters who had cast ballots by mail and through early voting.
More than 112,000 people had already voted by mail and another 5,000 had voted early, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office.
Candidates address supporters
A crowd of Jolly's supporters gathered at the Sheraton Sand Key on Clearwater Beach. He was introduced first by former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, then by a special surprise guest, "The Price is Right" host Bob Barker. Barker, 90, had appeared in a campaign ad for Jolly.
Then, while the loud speaker played the theme from "The Price is Right," Jolly took the stage. He thanked his supporters, who helped him over the course of his campaign, then paid his respects to Bill Young.
"Know from the bottom of my heart that I am grateful for the honor you have bestowed on me tonight, not to replace Bill Young but to follow Bill Young, as your next member of Congress, representing the greatest community I know, Pinellas County," he said.
Jolly then paid his respects to Young, his former boss.
"A man that we all knew as such a gentleman and a decent soul said to me, just making small talk, he said David, 'What do you know good?' I've heard 'What do you know,' 'What are you up to.' He said, 'What do you know good?' That was the spirit of Bill Young, a kind and decent man."
"The bottom line is I did not run for Congress to advance Washington," he said. "I ran for Congress to advance Pinellas County."
Overby was the first to speak after the election results came in. Overby spoke in front of a crowd of his supporters at Finley's Irish Pub in Largo.
“The amount of people that were reached, tens of thousands of voters, have reached out to us through the course of this campaign, and you can’t ask for anything stronger than that,” Overby said. “The movement pushes on and so will we. We’ll make announcements about November in the next couple weeks.”
Overby said his campaign planned to take a look at what happened tonight to decide what they would do for the general election.
Later, Sink gave her concession speech in front of supporters at the Hilton Carillon in St. Petersburg. Sink called the results disappointing, but she thanked her voters and her thousands of volunteers.
"Life brings many challenges, it brings many opportunities," she said. "My values have always been to do good, to do good for my family and my community and for my state and my country."
Sink wrapped up her speech on a positive note.
“My commitment to you is we don’t know what the future holds, but I’ll do what I’ve always done and continue to serve my community," she said. "And I want to thank you all again, and although we’re disappointed, the bars are open, let’s enjoy our friendship.”
Heated race drew national attention
This race had garnered national attention, as the district considered a tossup between the two major political parties, and ads for Sink and Jolly have inundated mailboxes and airwaves in recent weeks.
The race also drew million of dollars in outside money. According to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, groups such as political action committees and conventional party committees have spent a total of $8.8 million on the race in 2014 as of Monday.
The candidates also raised millions of dollars. Sink raised $2.5 million and Jolly $1 million, according to the nonpartisan research group.
Official statements on District 13 race
“While tonight was not the result we were hoping for, I am proud of the race we have run and so grateful for the countless Pinellas residents, volunteers and supporters who put their faith in our campaign.
"I have congratulated David Jolly and wish him the best success in representing the voices of Pinellas in Congress. My life has always been shaped by a deep commitment to service and problem solving, and I look forward to finding new ways and new avenues to continue practicing these values in pursuit of doing good for our community, our state and our country.”
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz
"Republican special interest groups poured in millions to hold onto a Republican congressional district that they've comfortably held for nearly 60 years.
"Tonight, Republicans fell short of their normal margin in this district because the agenda they are offering voters has a singular focus - that a majority of voters oppose - repealing the Affordable Care Act that would return us to the same old broken health care system.
"While tonight Democrats didn't wine, we are proud of Alex and the race she ran based on a vision of opportunity for all and an agenda that would grow the middle class and protect Florida's families."
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden
“I want to extend a big congratulations to David Jolly on his victory tonight. David proved that Pinellas County voters are tired of the devastating policies of this administration. Throughout this campaign, David has outlined his vision on how to grow the economy, create jobs and deliver quality healthcare for Pinellas families.
“Tonight, one of Nancy Pelosi’s most prized candidates was ultimately brought down because of her unwavering support for ObamaCare, and that should be a loud warning for other Democrats running coast to coast. Pinellas County voters have made the right choice; David will be a dedicated and thoughtful representative for them in Congress.”