Dems warn of Koch groups' influence in Fla. special election

National Democrats are expecting an influx of millions from Koch brothers-affiliated outside groups into the Florida special House election. And to prepare, Democrats are going on offense to frame Republican David Jolly as an out-of-touch Washington lobbyist, according to a new memo obtained by The Hill.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s memo outlines the party’s views on where Jolly stands heading into the March general election against Democrat Alex Sink to succeed the late Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), hammering him both for his lobbying background and the policies of the GOP.

“While Jolly’s career as a Washington insider epitomizes exactly the kind of broken politics that Pinellas residents hate about Congress, his positions are just as bad,” the memo reads. 

“Jolly won his Republican primary by supporting the unpopular Ryan budget that would end the Medicare guarantee as we know it and raise seniors’ costs and aligning himself with the fringe of his party — and the very Koch brothers groups that will prop up his candidacy,” it adds.

Jolly said during the primary that he would have to take a closer look at House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) proposal before supporting it, and emphasized a need to protect Social Security and Medicare.

But Democrats believe if they can tie him successfully to the budget, which has helped them in past special elections, it will hurt his standing among seniors, who make up a significant part of the population in Florida’s 13th District.

The memo goes on to characterize him as a “Washington lobbyist who doesn’t tell the truth,” and suggests his decades spent working in government and lobbying — and the fact he still has a house in D.C. — make him a “creature of Washington.” And it charges that, unlike Young, he “promotes ‘rigid ideological positions,’ ” a quote from a Tampa Bay Times op-ed endorsing his primary challenger, state Rep. Kathleen Peters.

It also uses the words of his fellow Republicans against him, highlighting comments made from local GOP elected officials backing Peters.

A number of outside GOP groups privately indicated to The Hill a reluctance to spend on the race, with one strategist calling it “an expensive problem to solve for a seat that’s not a must-win.” But Democrats believe Americans for Prosperity, a prominent Koch-linked outside group, will pour millions into the race in attacks on Sink.

To prepare for those attacks, Sink went up Wednesday with her first ad of the race, a positive bio spot that frames herself as a bipartisan problem-solver. And the DCCC memo is an early indication national Democrats will remain heavily on offense to pick up the seat, a perennial target that became truly competitive for Democrats with Young’s passing last year.

Jolly went up with a new TV ad on Wednesday as well, underscoring his conservative opposition to ObamaCare and immigration reform until there's more border security. He also paints Sink as beholden to D.C. interests and alludes to the fact she's from outside the district. 

"My opponent wants to win this for Washington. I'm in this to win one for Pinellas," Jolly says in the ad. 

Republicans believe opposition to ObamaCare in the district and nationwide will be Sink’s undoing. They're expecting Democratic outside groups to spend heavily on the race, too. 

“Alex Sink is so desperate to distract from her support for Obamacare that she is dumping her millions on TV in the hope that Pinellas County voters will just forget,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Katie Prill in a statement on Sink’s new ad.

“There is no doubt Sink and her Washington Super PAC cronies can buy a lot of fancy TV ads, but unless they can buy a time machine, they can’t change the fact that Sink is a big supporter of a health care system that is hurting Florida families and seniors. At the end of the day, that’s what this election is about," Prill added.

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