Democrats are two for two in special elections to the House. After flipping New York 23 from Republican to Dem last November, they held Florida 19 in a special election on Tuesday, despite tea bagger predictions that the Republican they favored would win the race, thus “sending a shot across the bow” that voter antipathy to health-care reform was going to lead to upsets in House races this fall.
Ted Deutch handily beat his Republican opponent Ed Lynch, 62 percent to 35 percent, retaining the seat held by Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler, who retired to join a think tank.
The district is home to many seniors, and Lynch vigorously campaigned against health care reform law, hoping to make the election a referendum on it, which he claimed was unpopular in the district.
Earlier this week, a tea bagger blogger predicted that a win by Lynch would send a signal that tea baggers were set to “take back” the House:
The TEA Party’s clout may be felt this week in the race for the open Congressional seat in Florida’s 19th District on April 13th. This may be the first shot across the bow of Republicans running for national, state wide, and local offices.
Tow the conservative line or else may be the message sent if TEA Party favorite Edward Lynch wins this special election.
I just received an e-mail from a friend saying that TEA Party members have made over 10,000 phone calls in support of conservative Edward Lynch for Congress. Edward is running against Florida Senator Ted Deutch a Democrat who embraced President Obama’s healthcare bill, anti-Israel posturing, and stimulus package. Edward won a special Republican primary election in February and now will use that momentum to turn a Democrat seat into a Republican seat – the first in Florida.
This special election may turn out to be the first in a wave of elections to take back the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. Florida may be set to take three Congressional seats currently held by Democrats – FL8, FL19 and FL22. Patricia Sullivan is running in District 8 and Allen West in District 22. Sullivan and West are both TEA Party favorites.
Lynch was a big hit at CPAC in February:
“He is a candidate for the next House election that’s going to occur…It’s the seat vacated by that loudmouth Robert Wexler in Florida that you might remember from cable television,” said Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund in his introduction of Lynch.
Lynch, who is Hispanic and head of the Latin American Republican Club in Palm Beach County, was part of a four-member panel discussing immigration reform. He spoke for six minutes and got big applause when he called for making English the official language of the United States.
“One of the most racist things we do in our country is not make English the official language,” Lynch said. Failure to learn English limits opportunities for Hispanics, Lynch said.
Lynch also got a big response when he suggested a phone-answering system that says “push 1 for English and push 2 to go home.”
Lynch faces long odds in Palm Beach-Broward congressional District 19, where Democrats hold more than a 2-to-1 voter registration advantage and Democratic rival Ted Deutch has raised more than $1 million. Wexler left office in January to head a Middle East think tank.
Lynch is hoping his appearance before the nation’s premiere gathering of conservatives will nationalize the race.
“Let’s Do This Together!” says a flyer handed out by the Lynch campaign to CPAC attendees. “Just like the Scott Brown race in Massachusetts, this race will have national implications. As the first House race of 2010, it will set the tone for all of the November elections!”
Lynch, who came to Washington this week with six campaign staffers, has spent a few hours getting issue briefings from the conservative Heritage Foundation, meeting with representatives of the National Rifle Association and other PACs and visiting Wexler’s old office on Capitol Hill.
Of course, despite the crowing from the tea bag set about the momentous signal a win by Lynch would send, purveyors of inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom are downplaying the significance of Deutch’s win in this heavily Democratic district. But even as Chris Cillizza, for examples, tamps down the significance of the win in a post titled, “Why FL-19 Isn’t a Health Care Referendum,” (even though the tea baggers said it was) he acknowledges that “Democrats point out — rightly — that had they lost this race (or even narrowly won it), the national press would have painted it as an electoral Armageddon. True enough.”