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GOP candidate wins Florida special election

CLEARWATER BEACH, Florida--A Republican won a special election in a Florida Congressional district where U.S. President Barack Obama's health care overhaul got its first test ahead of November's midterm elections and Democrats and Republicans spent millions of dollars auditioning national strategies for the rest of the year.

With almost all votes counted Tuesday night, David Jolly had 48.5 percent of the vote to Democrat Alex Sink's 46.7 percent. Libertarian Lucas Overby had 4.8 percent. The Tampa-area election was to replace 42-year Republican Rep. CW Bill Young, who died in October of cancer.

The implications of the dueling messages for the midterm elections inspired both parties to call in star advocates like former President Bill Clinton and former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, in addition to blanketing the district with ads, calls and mailings. More than US$11 million has been spent on the race, according to the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit group that tracks government information.

The battle for Florida's 13th District seat was a prequel of sorts to the national fight this year over who controls Congress in the last two years of Obama's final presidential term. The House is expected to remain under Republican control. But in the Senate, Republicans are hoping to leverage Obama's unpopularity and his health care law's wobbly start to gain the six seats required to control the 100-member chamber.

That made the race in Florida a pricey proving ground for both parties heading into November elections.

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