Although Charlie Crist has always been an ambitious pol looking forward to advance his career, most Republicans in Florida took little issue with that until they had the choice to support him or a more conservative Republican in the 2010 U.S. Senate race.
Their support for Marco Rubio grew so strong in early 2010 that the then-GOP governor realized he was likely to lose. He left the party to run as an independent against Rubio, only to lose to him by 19 percentage points. Crist then officially became a Democrat in 2012, and lost against Rick Scott in the race for governor last year.
Articulating the party’s disdain for Crist in the flesh on Tuesday was current CD13 Republican David Jolly, who succeeded the late C.W. Bill Young in Congress in March 2014. Jolly has said he’s leaving the seat in part because its newly drawn lines will make it much more difficult for a Republican to win it in 2016.
“I care deeply who is going to represent me in Congress; I’m a constituent. And in Charlie Crist, you would have what I believe would be the worst member of Congress you would ever see serve,” Jolly said to reporters asking why he was in Childs Park in South St. Petersburg, moments after Crist officially declared his candidacy to succeed Jolly in Washington.
“A person who is in this out of political convenience, not political conviction, a huckster, and a fraud who will say absolutely anything he wants, just to get elected,” Jolly said. Emphasizing that as a Pinellas County resident he would be a constituent under Crist, Jolly said that concept was unsavory to him. “I don’t want Charlie Crist to be my next member of Congress. And I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that there’s someone other than Charlie.”
Jolly said at a recent Tiger Bay Club that one of the reasons Congress is too dysfunctional is that too many representatives represent their political party and not their constituents, because most districts are so obviously drawn to be Republican- or Democratic-leaning. He said that wasn’t the case in CD 13, which made him more accountable.
Jolly said he’s never contested the Florida Supreme Court’s July ruling that his CD 13 district was drawn unfairly, but did say that he regretted that fairness was defined by geographical compactness, as “opposed to true political diversity.”
“If we had more 50-50 districts, we would end the obstructionism in Washington, D.C.,” he said Tuesday. “Unfortunately, what the court ruled is to create one more super-majority district that favors a Democrat very strongly.”
Jolly went on to say that he wasn’t suggesting he would oppose any Democrat who ran for the seat, just this particular Democrat.
“I would be proud to support my friend Rick Baker if he were to decide to run, but if not, and it’s a contest among Democrats, Charlie Crist is the one person who I hope goes down to defeat in the primary next August.”
Jolly said he has spoken to Baker, and says that even though the newly drawn district strongly favors a Democrat, “Rick Baker has won many of the new precincts before. I know he’s a person of conviction, unlike Charlie, and I know that if it were Rick Baker vs. Charlie Crist you’d see a contrast in leadership, versus just political convenience.”