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Mitch Perry Report for 4.21.15 — Senate in ’16 odds looking better for David Jolly?

A week ago I spoke with someone close to David Jolly about  the Pinellas County congressman taking time to consider a candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

The still-newbie Republican U.S. Representative has a number of pros and cons to contemplate before making such a momentous career decision. The biggest downside is the real possibility that after yearning to serve in Washington for perhaps his entire adult life, he could, if making an unsuccessful run, leave that all behind after just a couple of years in office.

Two obstacles, though, that were part of the equation a week ago for Jolly have gone away. They are Will Weatherford and Tom Rooney, both of whom say they won’t run for the seat.

Rooney’s name made him formidable. The scion of the family that’s owned the Pittsburgh Steelers, the congressman represents a wide swath of the state in his unwieldy District 17 seat that has included a small portion of Hillsborough County.

“While I feel like I could mount a successful statewide campaign, the toll I believe the process would take on my family is something I cannot put them through,” Rooney said  in a prepared statement Monday. “There is no greater responsibility I have than the upbringing of my three young sons. Therefore, I will not seek the Republican nomination for Senate in 2016.”

So who’s left standing? If the names are Bill McCollum and George LeMieux, you know the Democrats will be cheering.

There are plenty of other Republicans contemplating the race: Carlos Lopez-Cantera could catch fire, and Don Gaetz and Vern Buchanan are going to have money to burn if they get into the race.

It’s all part of the equation for the 42-year-old Jolly to consider. He may ultimately decide that it’s better for him to stay in the House (and based on voting patterns, it will be a challenge for any Republican in an open seat in a presidential election year), but it’s not as intimidating a challenge as it was just a week ago.

In other news …

Well, that “conscience protection” bill that religious groups in Florida say is necessary for them to not have to allow gays to adopt may be dead in the Florida Senate, which means the entire Legislature. Monday Senate Rules Committee Chairman Dave Simmons didn’t seem to be in that big of a hurry to get a vote on the bill before the committee’s four-hour meeting came to a close at 5 p.m.

• • •

Hillsborough County’s transit agency HART still has dreams of getting funding from Tallahassee this spring, but those hopes are faint with less than two weeks to go in the regular session.

• • •

Jeb Bush still leads the field over Scott Walker in a CNN poll released Monday among Republican candidates for 2016. But Hillary Clinton is crushing both Bush and Marco Rubio in the survey.

• • •

And we’ve got a wrap-up on our weekend in New Hampshire with all of the GOP presidential hopefuls here for your perusal (Though I realized Monday I neglected to write about Lindsey Graham, Jim Gilmore and Peter King).

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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