Joe Henderson: Potential Murphy-Jolly ticket just not believable
David Jolly and Patrick Murphy talk political gridlock.


Politicians do love to have their egos stroked, especially when someone whispers: “Hey, you are the answer to all the problems we face. You are the only hope for this state.”

The latest example of this seems to be a story that caught legs a couple of days ago, the one where a couple of well-known names from different political parties may be considering joining forces for a gubernatorial campaign.

I refer, of course, to Democrat Patrick Murphy and Republican David Jolly.

Having the two run on one ticket — Murphy as governor, Jolly as his loyal lieutenant — sounds like something a screenwriter would come up with for a movie plot about fixing government dysfunction.

I suppose we have to allow that anything is possible, especially in a political world where Donald Trump was elected president. But I just can’t see much long-term potential in something like this. To think the pair could win, or even make a significant dent in the vote totals, is just not believable.

I like and respect Jolly, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pinellas County, for his maverick views on how the people we elect to public office should conduct themselves.

After losing his seat in Congress, he has reinvented himself.

He has turned into a regular on MSNBC’s political talk shows, where he is pointed and precise. He also appears to harbor a dream that Republicans will one day come to their senses and become principled conservatives again instead of strident ideologues.

That may well happen one day but doesn’t mean there will be a place at the Republican table for Jolly if it does. He didn’t just burn his political bridges, he nuked them. Would Democrats accept him as one their own? Not likely, although, well … there is noted party-flipper Charlie Crist.

And Murphy, a two-term Congressman, didn’t excite anyone during his ill-executed run in 2016 against Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate.

It is true that the current Democratic field of candidates — Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and Chris King — doesn’t exactly have the state buzzing yet.

It’s early.

It is also worth noting that a large and enthusiastic crowd turned out last weekend in Hillsborough County to listen to those four candidates at the Democrats’ Spring Fling fundraiser.

That brings up Jolly’s favorite topic — fundraising. He went very public with his disgust at the amount of time members of Congress were expected to spend on raising cash to fund party initiatives.

Well, coming up with enough money to fuel a long-shot governor’s bid would require begging, groveling, and making promises this proposed ticket probably couldn’t keep.

And if by chance a Murphy-Jolly ticket did get in the race, and it later could be shown that it cost Democrats the governor’s mansion, Murphy would be a pariah in his own party from here to eternity.

Murphy and Jolly have a very public bromance going, and they are traveling the country explaining exactly what’s wrong with Washington.

As the website for the Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida notes, the tour is designed to “pull the curtain back on how we got here, to shine a light on the inside reasons why Washington has fallen into stalemate and dysfunction.”

They also offer proposed solutions.

Certainly, a campaign built around that theme sounds interesting in theory.

The truth is, though, it sounds even more like a publicity stunt that I believe both men would regret in the long run.

Joe Henderson

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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