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Congress District 2: Newcomer Southerland Beats 7-Term Incumbent Boyd

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-933066.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – After seven terms in Congress, Blue Dog Democrat Allen Boyd lost his North Florida district to Republican Steve Southerland, a political newcomer. Margie Menzel reports.

Southerland pulled 53 percent of the vote to Boyd's 41 percent. Independent candidates Paul McKain and Dianne Berryhill split the rest. Conceding after a 9 p.m. phone call with Southerland, Boyd made an emotional speech in which he acknowledged that his vote for national health care reform may have caused his loss, but stood by the vote.

"There will be a limited number of times in a career when you will have the opportunity to do something that will have a major positive impact on the lives of the people you represent," said Boyd. "The health care legislation will do that. Some will say it cost me this election; if it did, so be it. It was the right thing to do."

Boyd and Southerland say they'll cooperate for a smooth transition. Southerland acknowledges that he's new to governing, but says his priorities are clear.

"It is a daunting task where we find ourselves," he said, "but I think the very first thing we've got to do is end the uncertainty and make sure that Americans have the jobs that they need to finance their families, buy their homes, buy their automobiles, send their kids to college. And it doesn't matter what political persuasion you are, that matters to you."

Southerland, a Panama City funeral director, had strong support from the national Republican Party. Boyd, a Monticello farmer, had been elected with 60 percent or more of the vote since 1996, but fell victim to public sentiment against government, particularly Washington Democrats.