The Serve America Movement, which last year brought in former Rep. David Jolly to lead it, has filed political party formation paperwork in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.
Florida registration should not far behind, along with registrations in a few other states, Jolly said Monday.
Jolly and the interests behind SAM, organized in 2016 by Morgan Stanley lawyer Eric Grossman and others, are organizing an across-the-spectrum party built on shared principles of problem solving, electoral reform, transparency, and accountability, not on conservative or liberal political ideologies.
That’s in keeping with Jolly’s record. The two-term Republican congressman from Indian Shores lost his reelection bid in 2016 to Democrat Charlie Crist. Jolly then found himself increasingly splitting from the platform and policies of the Republican Party during the rise of President Donald Trump, for whom Jolly was an outspoken critic. Jolly left the GOP in 2018 to become an independent. He also partnered with Democratic former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy on a nationwide tour of college campuses talking about gridlock and dysfunction in Washington.
SAM membership he said, is up 40% this year, particularly since the Jan. 6 insurrection, and the party now has members signed up in all 50 states.
“We are seriously adding states at about one a month. When I say adding states, I mean … the ability to organize and mobilize a coalition with state leadership that puts us on trajectory towards party status in that state, that’s a serious undertaking,” Jolly said.
SAM is strategically focusing on 16 states in its initial push, including Florida, he said.
“We could file a party tonight in Florida with three signatures and our bylaws. But that doesn’t really change our footprint. What we’re working on in Florida is a strategy to really go big from the start, and that’s still in the works. I anticipate a Florida announcement by the end of the year,” Jolly said.
The Denver-based Serve America Movement is a 527 non-profit political organization with the stated goals of advancing greater competition and accountability in state and national politics and to build cross-partisan consensus around issues.
The party ran a ticket in the 2018 New York gubernatorial election and drew enough votes to qualify as a political party there for future ballots. However, New York changed its rules and decertified four of its eight parties, including SAM, in 2020. SAM sued and that case is pending in federal court. Meanwhile, Jolly said SAM continues to organize in New York, and he expects to have candidates on the 2022 ballot.
For the 2018 election SAM raised $2.6 million and spent $2.4 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Its major donors included Ferrari ($250,000,) Morgan Stanley ($157,000,) and B-Fore Capital ($140,000.)
SAM defines itself as a big-tent party, and Jolly said that distinguishes it from “minor” alternative parties like the Libertarians and the Greens, which he said have adopted narrow political ideologies and therefore have boxed themselves away from being able to grow beyond their small bases.
“Our mission — we believe a mutli-party democracy is more responsive to voters. And our commitment is to create a new party to create a multi-party democracy for the American people,” Jolly said. “SAM is the only big-tent party in the country where we welcome people from the left and right and the middle. … There’s no party, major or minor today, that can accommodate that kind of independent thought. SAM not only allows, it celebrates that independent thought because, at the end of the day, we think it produces the greatest consensus for voters.”