Congressman David Jolly announced his Senate run this morning, but we already knew that was going to happen.
Jolly will headline a rally this evening at Alfano’s Restaurant in Clearwater during a monthly meeting of the Republican Club of Greater Largo. He was elected to his District 13 Congressional seat in a March, 2014 special election, and easily won reelection last November when a Democratic challenger failed to materialize, making Libertarian Lucas Overby his only opponent.
“I have been blessed with the opportunity to represent the people of Pinellas County in the U.S. House, taking their voice to Washington, D.C., and delivering results for our neighbors and community,” Jolly said in a media release announcing his run. “I am proud of what we have accomplished together, and I am confident that the best is yet to come for our region and our state. It is with this sincere belief and focus on the future of Pinellas County and the entire State of Florida that I proudly announce my candidacy for the United States Senate.”
He faces a relatively crowded candidate field in the Republican primary, including Ponte Vedra Congressman Ron DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, among others, both of whom have considerable conservative cred. Compared to DeSantis, Jolly, while a vocal critic of President Obama, has taken moderate stances on issues like offshore drilling and same-sex marriage.
So, as one might imagine, he went on the offensive when outlining his platform, going after the Obama administration on foreign policy and, naturally, the Affordable Care Act.
“Over the next year, I intend to run for the United States Senate on an unwavering platform that will reject the politics of division and class warfare that have defined the current Administration, reject the failed foreign policies that have projected only weakness and apology on the world stage, and embrace a new economy founded on the principle that individuals and families, not government bureaucrats, create success," his statement continued. "I will stand up everyday for the American people and say once and for all that you should be allowed to determine your own future, practice your own faith and pursue the American dream — and that includes making your own health care coverage decisions."
He's running for the seat Marco Rubio is vacating to run for President. It had been speculated for months that Jolly would do so, but a state Supreme Court decision forcing lawmakers to redraw gerrymandered Congressional districts served as a catalyst for today's announcement. Jolly's district was among those that was clearly drawn to favor Republicans, with a big chunk of Democrats cut out of the Pinellas peninsula and added to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor's already-safe Democratic district. With those likely Democrat voters now likely to get restored to Florida's 13th, it doesn't look good for almost any Republican running in the district, even a relatively popular incumbent like Jolly.
If he clears the August 2016 primary, he'd likely face a Democratic member of Congress, like U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson, an outspoken Orlando-area liberal and Patrick Murphy, a moderate and former Republican. U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham may also jump into the race.
Murphy's campaign was quick to issue a statement on Jolly's run.
“Floridians want a Senator who will fight to strengthen the middle class, protect Social Security and Medicare, and stand up for a woman’s right to choose," he said. "These are the issues that I’m passionate about, and I will continue to focus on in my campaign for the U.S. Senate. I welcome Congressman Jolly to this conversation.”