Hard-fought congressional election in Florida is seen as a bellwether

Republicans and Democrats are spending millions of dollars on Tuesday’s special congressional election in Florida, a race seen by leaders on both sides as the first real test of the parties’ broader strategies for this fall.

The race for the Tampa-area District 13 seat, left open last year by the death of Rep. C.W. Bill Young, has taken on national interest from the get-go, particularly with the intensity of negative ads.

Polls show a tight race between Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly, with Libertarian candidate Lucas Overby potentially playing the spoiler.

“It is really clear that the national parties are both searching for a message and what sticks in a swing district in a swing state,” said Susan McManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida. “It has been nonstop negativity to the point that some have described it as ‘noxious.’”

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