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Joe Henderson: Timing may never be right again for David Jolly

Because it’s best to never rule out anything in politics, I offer this qualifier: Perhaps the time will come again for David Jolly to make another run for public office.

Having said that, I honestly doubt it.

In a tweet late Tuesday night, Jolly said he won’t try to regain his seat in Congress by challenging U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist in November.

As he noted, “politics is about timing” and given what could be a Democrat tsunami in the November mid-terms, Jolly said he will dedicate his efforts toward being part of a primary challenge in 2020 to Donald Trump.

I like David Jolly and his maverick ways, but the political reality is that he is a man without a party right now. Even as a Congressman from Pinellas County, he angered Republican Party bosses by going rogue on “60 Minutes” with his disgust at how much of his day was spent fund-raising.

After losing his re-election bid in 2016 to Crist, Jolly has made bridge-burning a daily habit – not that he is wrong. He has become a national go-to quote when someone needs a Republican to rip Trump.

He shows up frequently on panels at MSNBC and doesn’t hold back at how he feels Trump is ruining the cause of conservatism and the country.

It makes for compelling theater, and Jolly does make a reasoned argument that the Trump presidency is a disaster and our political system is broken.

But speaking the truth can have consequences, and Jolly would surely face them if he ever tried to run for national office again. Democrats wouldn’t support him over one of their own, and Republicans would shun him like he had typhoid.

Maybe he could run for state office, but he likely still would face those same obstacles. Even if he were elected, he would likely be a pariah in his own party once he reported to work.

He could follow the Crist model and change parties, but that doesn’t seem to be his style. What Jolly seems to want is for the Republican Party to come to its senses and reject the kind of extremism that has been the Trump brand.

Good luck with that.

It likely will take a ballot-box slaughter in November and maybe one in 2020 as well for any sort of reasoned moderation to take hold in the GOP. By that time, Democrats could be back in control while Republicans search for a new identity that doesn’t scare the crap out of voters and our allies.

Where does that leave David Jolly?

For at least the time being, it leaves him right where he is – on the front line of visible opposition to his own party. It leaves him to fight an uphill battle to restore some conservative sanity to the GOP message.

And it leaves him as a politician without an election.

Like I said, we learned in 2016 that anything can happen in politics, so never say never. Right now though, Jolly will have to be content to call it like he sees it from the sidelines. He can only hope someone is paying attention.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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