By Justin Sink - 03/12/14 04:24 PM EDT
ObamaCare is not to blame for the loss that Democrats suffered in Tuesday’s special election in Florida, according to the White House.
Press secretary Jay Carney said the healthcare law was “not the decisive factor" in the narrow defeat of Democrat Alex Sink to Republican David Jolly in the race for a seat left vacant by the late Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.).
"And I think that that's evidenced by the fact that the Republican candidate himself didn't even mention it in his victory speech."
Carney disputed the idea that the race was a harbinger for the midterm elections, where Democrats face a tough battle to pick up seats in the House and retain their majority in the Senate.
"In 2006, Democrats lost every competitive special election and went on to pick up 31 seats in November. In 2010, when House Democrats would go on to lose 63 seats and control the chamber in the fall, they won every single competitive special election," Carney said. "It's a single race."
The Florida race was considered a toss-up, although Democrats had hoped that they could pick up the seat because President Obama won the district in both 2008 and 2012.
Conservative political action committees and national Republicans poured millions of dollars into the race, with much of the spending going toward ads critical of the healthcare law.
Republicans on Wednesday crowed about the victory, arguing it is a sign of what’s to come for Democrats in November.
“Listen, I’ve stood here after losing some special elections. I’ve tried to put lipstick on a pig, and it’s still a pig,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said at the Capitol. “You can bet they’ll try to put lipstick on it today, but you all know what the facts are.”
Boehner said the healthcare law would only grow more unpopular in the run-up to the midterm elections, a point that was echoed by other Republicans.
"When I first heard that Mr. Jolly won the election, I said, 'Thank you, ObamaCare,' " Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.) said at an event on Wednesday hosted by the Heritage Foundation.
Carney disputed that the Florida vote was a referendum on ObamaCare. He cited Jolly’s victory speech, where he cast the vote as a “local race” that he did not "take a mandate" from.
The White House spokesman also stressed that Republicans had held the Florida district for 58 years.
"They routinely won that seat by 30 or more points. And last night they won by less than 2 points. So it is what it is," Carney said.