David Jolly Archives - Florida Politics

Larry Sabato ‘Crystal Ball’ moves Charlie Crist seat to ‘likely Democratic’

With the way U.S. congressional districts are apportioned, any representative who wins their seat by less than five points is considered to be in a swing-seat district.

That makes them potentially vulnerable in a re-election bid.

Other (sometimes unforeseen) variables also determine the political landscape in an electoral cycle, such as a “wave” election that can result in dozens of seats switching parties.

For example, wave elections took place in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2014.

In 2016, Charlie Crist defeated David Jolly by 3.8 points. And while that makes the former Florida governor potentially vulnerable to a 2018 challenge, that is growing less likely by the day.

In the latest Sabato Crystal Ball (the prediction newsletter named after University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato), managing editor Kyle Kondik now moves Crist’s 13th Congressional District from “leans Democratic” to “likely Democratic.”

“Both Crist and (New Jersey Democrat Josh) Gottheimer represent ‘swingy’ districts, but these freshmen members are also raising boatloads of cash and benefit from the environment,” Kondik writes. “Crist does not have a viable challenger at the moment.”

Jolly has previously said that he would declare whether he would run again for his former seat in January, but the odds look less likely that will occur. Never a prolific fundraiser, there is still considerable doubt whether the National Republican Congressional Campaign (NRCC) would come to Jolly’s financial aid next year.

The NRCC opted not to help out Jolly when he truly needed it in his 2016 bid to maintain the seat against Crist, still indignant over the Pinellas Republican outing the organization for placing an emphasis on the need for members of Congress to fundraise every single day.

The district was also substantially redistricted in 2015, making it much more Democratic in voter registration, as well as much harder for any Republican to win.

Add to the fact that Crist had more than $1.4 million cash on hand, and it does seem a safe bet to move the St. Petersburg Democrat into the “likely Democratic” category.

Other Sabato predictions include Republican Mario Diaz-Balart moving from “likely Republican” to “safe Republican” in District 25; Republican Brian Mast in District 18 staying “likely Republican”; Carlos Curbelo‘s District 26 seat being a “tossup” against an eventual Democratic nominee and Florida’s 27th Congressional seat — vacated after 30 years by Republican Illeana Ros-Lehtinen — leaning Democratic.

David Jolly, Patrick Murphy to meet again at USF St. Pete

Former Florida Congressmen David Jolly and Patrick Murphy resume their fall college speaking tour in St. Petersburg.

The tour — called “Why Gridlock Rules Washington” — continues Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. on the 2nd floor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg Student Center. It will be televised live in the Tampa Bay area and Orlando markets.

Over the past couple of months, Jolly and Murphy have been holding public discussions about the state of chaos in Washington D.C., and what can be done to fix politics.

The one-hour event will be broadcast on Bay News 9 in Tampa Bay and Bay News 13 in Orlando, and will be moderated by Bay News 9 anchor Holly Gregory.

The two former lawmakers appeared on the USF Tampa campus last month, where Jolly repeated his comments from a year ago that part of the job as a member of Congress is to spend 20-30 hours a week raising money, and only 10 hours a week doing their actual jobs.

“I truly was taken aback by the fact that consumes every single minute,” the Pinellas Republican said. “If any member tells you that they spend more time on policy than fundraising, they’re lying.”

Attendees are asked to arrive at the ballroom on the 2nd floor of the University Student Center by 6:45 p.m. on December 5th. Those interested in attending must RSVP through Eventbrite.

Nat’l Republicans take another whack at Charlie Crist over tax reform bill

Like most House Democrats, St. Petersburg Congressman Charlie Crist voted against the GOP tax reform bill that passed last Thursday.

The House’s tax overhaul reduces the number of individual tax brackets, cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and curbs other tax breaks and deductions.

The plan, in total, would lower taxes on all income groups on average in 2019, but the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that some Americans would eventually see tax increases.

Democrats are depicting the bill as a tax cut for wealthy Americans and corporations, with middle-class families footing the bill — an issue they say they’ll be happy to run against Republicans next year.

The National Republican Congressional Committee thinks the public will side with Republicans, and they’re targeting 25 Democrats who they believe are in vulnerable districts in new 15-second digital ads that are running on Facebook.

Crist defeated Republican David Jolly by 3.8 points in 2016. Jolly says he’ll decide by January if he’ll challenge Crist again in 2018.

A new digital ad that began airing Friday depicts the former Florida governor as out of touch with his voters.

A similar ad is being run against Orlando area Democrat Stephanie Murphy.

“If anyone is looking for Stephanie Murphy or Charlie Crist — they were last seen bowing to their party bosses instead of providing essential tax relief for the people who need it most: the middle-class,” said NRCC spokesperson Maddie Anderson. “It’s a shame Stephanie Murphy and Charlie Crist couldn’t be a part of historic tax reform simply because of their unwavering allegiance to Nancy Pelosi.”

Bedlam at Rick Kriseman election watch party; bitterness at Rick Baker’s

Unlike the August 29 primary, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman went into the general election as the favorite against former Mayor Rick Baker.

But margins were slim.

Much to the consternation of Baker (and his supporters), early returns of the evening — which included early vote/vote-by-mail — gave Kriseman an advantage of two percentage points, a margin he never relinquished during the next hour, ultimately taking 51.6 percent, versus Baker’s 48.3.

“We can now move forward. We can now finish what we started, and fully attain our vision of being a city of opportunity where the sun shines on all,” Kriseman said to kick off his victory speech at Nova 535 in St. Petersburg.

Among chants of “four more years,” Kriseman said the city was now ready to lead the nation on a host of issues: climate change, clean energy, inclusivity and campaign finance reform.

“We are already seen as a leader,” he said. “But we can do so much more.”

Kriseman was magnanimous, hoping that after the bitter campaign he could work with Baker in “putting St. Pete first.”

In contrast, Baker refused to acknowledge Kriseman at all in his brief concession speech to supporters at 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House.

“St. Petersburg is still an incredible place,” Baker said, encouraging supporters to continue making St. Pete a “seamless city.”

“For every child and every neighborhood, no matter where they live,” he added, “has an opportunity to live in safety, to be able to dream big dreams, to be able to get a great education and to be able to achieve the American dream.”

It was a well-heeled crowd of Baker supporters, with some muted criticism of the former mayor’s campaign, as well as some grumbling that there was too much time spent on the city’s south side and not enough in it’s western and northern parts.

And, of course, there was the Donald J. Trump factor.

From Day One, Baker accused Kriseman of partisanship, which Team Kriseman did (early and often), driving home the idea that the popular former two-term mayor was on the same team as Trump, despite Baker never saying anything about the president.

“You want races to be decided based on the qualifications of the candidates, but you can’t take politics out of politics,” admitted former Congressman David Jolly, introducing Baker’s two children to the audience after results started rolling in.

“Rick Baker did a wonderful job as mayor, but he’s been presented with the headwinds that most Republican candidates today are presented with, which is how do you handle what Donald Trump with this Republican Party?” Jolly asked rhetorically. “It’s not fair for Rick Baker, but it’s reality in today’s politics.”

“St. Petersburg is a very Democratic town and so he just tightened up the partisan politics to his advantage, which I can’t blame him for,” conceded former Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee Chair Paul Bedinghaus. “He played the party card, the Trump card.”

While Kriseman called for the city to come together, not all Baker fans were there emotionally, just yet.

“You don’t change leopard spots,” sniffed former Councilman Bill Dudley.

“This is just gonna give him a boost to continue to do what he’ doing, which is a real shame,” lamented former City Councilwoman Leslie Curran, a Kriseman supporter in 2013 who flipped to Baker during this election cycle.

“He bought his way out of jail time with a settlement with the consent order, but you can’t settle on everything,” she said, referring to the City Council’s approving a consent order with the Fish and Wildlife Commission and Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney Bernie McCabe to evade criminal penalties. The board agreeing to spend $326 million to improve the city’s sewage system, which discharged up to 200 million gallons of partially treated wastewater into local waterways from 2015 and 2016.

Some analysts considered Kriseman a dead man walking in early August, after an internal poll by the Florida Democratic Party showed the incumbent, a Democrat, down by double digits, 44 -33 percent.

That prompted some to start pushing the panic button, but Kriseman and close supporters weren’t swayed.

The next day, Pinellas County School Board Member (and fierce Kriseman ally) Rene Flowers told a group of supporters about to knock on doors that it was “time for the gloves to come off.”

“Quite frankly, we’ve attempted to run a campaign that is based on civility,” Flowers told the group at Kriseman’s southside headquarters. “We’ve attempted to run a campaign that is based on facts, and we will continue to do so, but we truly see that’s not what the opposition is doing, so it’s time for the gloves to come off.”

Less than three weeks later was the primary, where supposedly the only suspense would be if Baker could get the 50-percent-plus-one needed to end the election outright.

Instead, Kriseman stunned the Tampa Bay-area (and anyone else paying attention to the race) by capturing 70 more votes than Baker. And despite some extremely rough press and negative campaign ads by Baker, he never looked back.

Also paying attention were national Democrats.

DNC Chair Tom Perez exclaimed Tuesday night: “Today is a good day for St. Petersburg. I want to congratulate Mayor Kriseman on his re-election, and I want to recognize the incredible work of the Florida Democratic Party and countless grassroots organizers who helped lead Rick to victory … I’m confident that Mayor Kriseman will continue to move his city forward and give residents of St. Pete the leadership they deserve. The DNC was proud to invest in this re-election race, and we will continue fighting to elect mayors like Rick who will expand opportunity and build an economy that works for all.”

(Photo Credit: Kim DeFalco).

 

Though decrying gridlock, David Jolly would like to see Democrats stop Donald Trump

Republican former U.S. Rep. David Jolly doubled down Tuesday evening on his expressed wish that Democrats win the 2018 mid-term elections as a check on President Donald Trump, saying he hoped that so that “we may be safer as a nation.”

Jolly appeared Wednesday evening at the University of Central Florida in Orlando with Democratic former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy on their college-campus tour to talk about their concerns about how hyper-partisanship has caused gridlock, and forced both parties to kowtow to extremes within their ranks.

Yet Jolly, the St. Petersburg politician who served two terms and then chose to run an eventually-aborted campaign for the U.S. Senate Republican nomination last year instead of for re-election, expressed great frustration Monday night on MSNBC with his party’s unwillingness to stand up to Trump.

After the UCF forum Tuesday evening, he repeated that contention and his desire to see Democrats take over the U.S. House of Representatives for the last two years of Trump’s term. He told FloridaPolitics.com that he views Trump as unsteady and a national security concern, and is worried that his party cannot check him.

“I’ve struggled with it as we continue to hear stories around the national security implications around the president’s irascibility and volatility,” Jolly said. “Certainly we know some of the Constitutional issues that have been raised from ethics to Russia. We also know that he is an unsteady hand as commander in chief.

“And we’ve seen Republicans largely unwilling to stand up to him,” Jolly continued. “Listen, I’m a Republican, who hopes we see a Republican Congress pass Republican policies. But it may be for the greater good that there is a stronger check on Capitol Hill on this president than the Republicans are currently providing. So if it meant Democrats take control of the House for two years, and the president not being in office come January 2021, then we may be safer as a nation in my opinion.

“This may be bigger than the party,” Jolly concluded.

The matter did not come up during the 75-minute forum, in which Murphy and Jolly expressed their concerns about how gerrymandering had created too many safe seats, and how the party leadership in Congress was valuing power over any bipartisan relationships, discouraging members in any contested seats from building relationships with those across the aisle.

Murphy said gerrymandering was the biggest single problem. Yet he also decried the closed-primary system in Florida and other states that use it, noting that voter turnout in a primary average is 15 percent. That 15 percent, he argued, likely represents the most extreme wing of the party; and becomes the deciding force in any district predetermined to be a safe seat for one party or the other. And he contended 90 percent of seats are so predetermined.

“So imagine you’re a member of Congress. Imagine your a candidate. Are you going to appeal to that 85 percent [who don’t vote in the primary] or that 15 percent? Murphy said. “You’re going to tailor a message to them. You’re going to make sure they see ads.And you’re going to get to office. And then you’re going to say the same thing, even if it’s against your own self interest.

“We both know friends on both sides of the aisle that are standing for things they don’t truly believe in,” Murphy said.

Both Murphy and Jolly talked about how leaderships punish members who work across the aisle. Murphy said it starts from the very first week a freshman member of Congress arrives, and is segregated from freshmen from the other party, and then is told to not get chummy with those in the other party, because the goal is to see them defeated in the next election. Murphy and Jolly said both sides do it, threatening to not provide re-election money, or threatening to take away valuable committee seats.

“We can’t can’t take human nature out of this,” Jolly said. “It requires a certain amount of political courage to step forward to say I’m going to be one of those people who decide to change it.”

David Jolly says nation might be ‘better off’ if Democrats take back Congress in 2018

Amid growing concerns over President Donald Trump‘s temperament, David Jolly suggested (on national television, no less) that the country might be “safer” if Democrats took control of the House in 2018.

“I will be honest with you, Lawrence; I, personally, as a Republican in the past few weeks, have wondered if the Republic’s safer if Democrats take over the House in 2018,” the former Republican congressman from Pinellas County told Lawrence O’Donnell Monday on MSNBC’s “The Last Word.”

“This is a president that needs a greater check on his powers than Republicans in Congress have offered,” Jolly added.

Clearly surprised by the comment, McDonnell asked Jolly to repeat what he just said. Did he really just hear a Republican say that — for the safety of the country — we’d be better off with the Democrats in control next year?

“There is no discernible Republican ideological agenda that is worth fighting for right now,” Jolly replied. “But we do know that we have a president who very well might put this nation at risk and this Republican Congress has done nothing to check his power. The Democrats could, and we might be better off as a republic, if they take the House in 2018.”

To regain the House of Representatives, Democrats would need to flip 24 seats next year.

Jolly also insisted he’s still thinking of running as a Republican against Democrat Charlie Crist in a rematch of the 2016 race in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

But after comments like this, will Pinellas Republicans rally behind him?

Watch below:

Charlie Crist adds $353K during Q3 to re-election fund

Democrat Charlie Crist raised $353,473 during the third quarter of 2017, giving him more than $1.4 million cash on hand for his re-election campaign.

While still impressive, the pace is slowing down for one of Florida’s most prodigious fundraisers. The former governor raised a whopping $720,000 during the first quarter of the year, and followed up with more than $550,000 in the second quarter.

With more than a year before the 2018 midterm elections, Crist has yet to face an announced challenger in 2018.

Republican David Jolly could be that challenger.

Jolly has said that he will announce early next year if he will run again against Crist, who defeated him 52 to 48 percent last November.

David Jolly, Patrick Murphy discuss fixing Washington — it was (sort of) interesting

One could reasonably approach the David Jolly-Patrick Murphy roadshow hitting Tampa Thursday night with a healthy dose of cynicism.

Here are two former politicians decrying problems of Washington D.C. when, if things had turned the way they hoped they would, both would have been ensconced in the belly of the beast they were now criticizing.

Nevertheless, the two former members of Congress, for the most part, kept it pretty engaging during the hourlong conversation at the University of South Florida Marshall Center, facilitated by USF professor Susan McManus and Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith.

Each man spent the first 15 minutes of the Oval Theater event giving their own prescriptions of what they find wrong with politics today.

Unlike the 34-year-old Murphy, who had been first elected to Congress at the tender of age of 29 after defeating Tea Party Republican Allen West in 2012, Jolly was already an insider, having worked for years as both a lobbyist and an aide to longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Young.

After winning a special election in March 2014, Jolly said he was stunned to discover how much fundraising was expected of new members, since it wasn’t something he ever saw Young doing. Jolly then described a slide he had seen from a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee presentation to incoming lawmakers (he suspected the National Republican Congressional Campaign had one as well) suggesting candidates spend 20-30 hours a week raising money, and only 10 hours a week doing their jobs.

“I truly was taken aback by the fact that consumes every single minute,” the Pinellas Republican said. “If any member tells you that they spend more time on policy than fundraising, they’re lying.”

Another thing that surprised Jolly: The lack of understanding of policy among members of Congress, without naming names.

“It’s remarkable how many people don’t understand the Constitutional implications, the subject matter implications, or even care to learn,” he said, noting they just rely on senior staff help.

Murphy, a Treasure Coast Democrat who lost a bid to defeat Marco Rubio, concurred. He said that while he still believes in term limits, serious policy issues remain (as one, he referred to the Dodd-Frank financial regulation), which take time to learn.

Both men offered some details of what happens behind the scene, especially as freshmen lawmakers.

Murphy discussed how he interviewed several people to learn how to run a campaign, ultimately hiring one as a consultant. He said he was “shocked” to learn the expense (over $10,000 a month). Murphy hired a consultant, a campaign manager, and then a fundraising team.

Jolly was also told he needed a pollster, which he thought absurd since Young served in Congress for more than 40 years without one. But his general consultant told him that a pollster was necessary to learn what constituents care about.

“We need a poll so we know your Republican voters are going to be participating — what is most important to them, so when we determine how to spend money on mailers and commercials, we’re on message with it,” Jolly explained.

Jolly supports open primaries and “jungle primaries” in places like Louisiana and California, where the top two finishers of a race advance to a general election, not the top Republican and Democrat.

He said what he found sad — going across party lines to show independence wouldn’t be rewarded by voters — referring to how he came out for same-sex marriage in 2014 a few months after his election. Jolly said his consultant told him that it was lose-lose; he had just lost Republican votes and wasn’t about to gain any Democratic ones.

“Aren’t you winning independents?” Smith asked.

Jolly replied that he thought that after “multiple” elections one could build up a constituency of independent voters, but in early races, “you’re not bringing people over.”

Both men spoke up in support of lobbyists, saying that in many cases they’re the most informed participants on a public policy issue. (Did we mention that Jolly was previously a lobbyist?)

A frequently overlooked aspect of a member of Congress’ job is constituent services. Both men related poignant stories of helping individuals, which left them both humbled and feeling fortunate they can actually help somebody.

While much of Murphy’s message seemed to be that the system encourages extremes of both parties and drown out centrists, Jolly’s approach was more realistic. He said it was fine to be progressive or conservative, but the lesson politicians learn is that by compromising on some issues is how public policy advances.

“It’s OK to be far to the left or far to the right,” Jolly said, “but the challenge and the breakdown right now is that those two communities are not working together.”

Responding to audience questions, Jolly and Murphy agreed that the Netflix show “House of Cards” was fairly realistic.

When asked if it was possible to win without political action committees, Jolly said a prevalence of third-party groups means candidates have to raise less money on their own. Murphy said “very unlikely.”

To the same question, Murphy answered “very unlikely.”

In the audience of several hundred were mostly students, many holding slices of free pizza offered as an incentive to attend. Other students admitted they were only there to get extra credit from professors.

David Jolly, Patrick Murphy ready to take their act on the road

While he’s not sure if he will attempt to resume his political career by running against Charlie Crist in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, former Republican congressman David Jolly says he will be part of another campaign in the future – a GOP effort to block Donald Trump from being renominated in 2020 as the party’s presidential nominee. Read more

David Jolly, Patrick Murphy to embark on speaking tour of Florida college campuses

Former Florida Congressmen David Jolly and Patrick Murphy will tour college campuses this fall, where the onetime U.S. Senate rivals will try to explain why politics in Washington is so screwed up.

“Why Gridlock Rules Washington and How We Can Solve the Crises” will feature a town-hall style format moderated by members of the media and academics, with a question-and-answer session to follow.

The first stop is Sept. 12 at the University of South Florida in Tampa.  The 75-minute event will be sponsored by USF and the Tampa Bay Times.

Other stops include Oct. 4 at Florida International University, Oct. 18 at the University of Miami and the University of Florida in Gainesville Oct. 25, with more events likely to be added.

Jolly, a Republican from Pinellas County, won the special election in early 2014 to succeed the late Bill Young; he was re-elected later that year. He lost his bid for re-election last fall to Democrat Charlie Crist after his 13th Congressional District was redrawn up with plenty more Democrats after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the district had been illegally drawn up by the Florida Legislature.

“I think what Patrick and I are focusing in on is regardless of where you consider yourself on the (political) spectrum, there’s a path forward to working together, and in this environment I don’t think there’s enough people speaking to that,” said Jolly, who describes himself as a “governing conservative,” willing to approach issues where few Republicans seek a compromise.

Murphy was a two-term Democratic Representative from Jupiter who narrowly defeated Republican Allen West in Florida’s 18th Congressional District in 2012. He was the Democratic Party’s nominee for U.S. Senate last fall but lost to GOP incumbent Marco Rubio.

“One of the biggest things that are frustrating Americans on both sides of aisle, and perhaps resulting somewhat in President Trump’s election, was the lack of progress that people have been seeing,” says Murphy, who said both he and Jolly agreed upon their election that there was common ground to be found on issues such as climate change, tax reform and the need for infrastructure spending.

During their short time serving together in Congress, the two men found ways to work together on those issues and more. There was the possibility that the two could have faced each other in the Senate race last year, but Jolly ultimately dropped out of the race once Rubio flip-flopped and decided he would run again for his Senate seat after his presidential ambitions collapsed.

Murphy says of all the problems with a dysfunctional Congress, gerrymandering is at the top. Jolly agrees but believes that districts should be redrawn in terms of electoral competitiveness, so that working across the aisle will be positive, instead of giving ammunition to political party officials to have that candidate “primaried” come election time.

Murphy recently agreed to serve as one of six fellows at Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service this fall.

Jolly, meanwhile, has been ubiquitous on CNN and MSNBC this year offering unfettered criticism mostly at Trump. He says that while the tour isn’t about Trump at all, it clearly is designed to provide an alternative to politics in the Trump era.

You can find more information about the tour at fixwashington2017.com.

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