David Jolly Archives - Florida Politics

Charlie Crist sails to easy victory over George Buck

Democrat Charlie Crist scored an easy victory over Republican George Buck in his reelection race for Congressional District 13 in St. Petersburg and parts of Pinellas County.

In a landslide, Crist grabbed 58 percent of the vote of the vote.

Crist’s race looked sealed from the get-go. He raked in well over $3 million to ward off a GOP challenger. Buck’s unimpressive fundraising haul came to about $30,000 and his campaign efforts were limited.

Crist was first elected to the district four years ago when he beat former GOP Congressman David Jolly. Crist’s victory came after the district’s boundaries were redrawn to include parts of downtown St. Pete and south St. Pete, a hub for Democrats.

The district changes shifted the district from leaning conservative to favoring Democrats.

Crist ran a tough campaign against Buck, a retired firefighter turned academic, despite is massive fundraising advantage.

His campaign slathered airwaves with positive messages about his freshman class accomplishments including work for veterans and consumers, as well as his open communication with constituents.

One of Crist’s ads featured the Democrat, who used to be a Republican Florida Governor, taking calls from constituents telling voters he works for them.

Crist focused a lot of his campaign efforts helping other Democrats in more competitive races. He toured the state rallying voters in various campaign stumps, town halls and get out the vote efforts.

Crist said those stops helped his own campaign while also pushing messages from other Democrats. He made several campaign appearances with Lt. Gov. nominee Chris King, and also campaigned heavily for Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw who and Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried.

Crist plans to continue work in Congress supporting access to health care and fighting back conservative efforts to scale back on health care access for people with pre-existing conditions.

He’s also working with colleagues to identify mitigation and relief efforts to combat red tide, which is plaguing Crist’s district.

Safe this election, Charlie Crist hits the trail for other Democrats

Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist is looking at an easy re-election Tuesday against a less than formidable challenge from Republican George Buck.

That’s likely why he’s spending his time campaigning with other Democrats throughout the state to help them get elected.

Crist started his Saturday in Tampa near Ybor City making the rounds with Chris King, the Lieutenant Governor nominee running with Democrat Andrew Gillum.

Then he made his way through several different canvassing kickoffs in Pinellas County to support local Democrats.

“President Obama put it better than anybody: This election is about the character of America,” Crist said.

“Do we want to be uniters or dividers; do we want to be hopeful or fearful? I hear from a lot of people that are very concerned about the tone in our country right now and the rhetoric and the violence that we’ve sadly witnessed.”

Crist says he’s fed up with modern political discourse, particularly from President Donald Trump, that emphasizes vitriol and potentially promotes violence rather than unity.

The man accused of sending pipe bombs to more than a dozen prominent Democratic officials and supporters — including former President Barack Obama, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and top Democratic donor George Soros — lived in South Florida and drove a white van plastered in pro-Trump stickers and propaganda.

Crist also mentioned the anti-Semitic shooter in Pittsburgh that shot up a Jewish synagogue, claiming the lives of 11 congregants.

“I think it makes a difference,” Crist said of the recent incidents. “Any significant event that touches your heart makes a difference. It’s not about politics, it’s about our character.”

Obama made that point in a Friday appearance in Miami supporting Gillum for Governor and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate.

In a nod to Crist’s predecessor, former U.S. Rep. David Jolly who left the Republican Party and said he voted for Gillum, Obama said the two probably don’t see eye-to-eye on political issues.

But Jolly recognized the rhetoric coming from the Trump White House and couldn’t support Ron DeSantis, who closely aligns with and supports Trump.

More significantly, DeSantis was endorsed by the president, which almost certainly clinched the Republican nomination for Governor this August over otherwise GOP heir apparent Adam Putnam, the state’s term-limited Agriculture Commissioner. 

In addition to Gillum and Nelson, Crist also is urging voters to support Democrats in Florida cabinet races. That includes Sean Shaw for Attorney General and Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner.

Those races and legislative runs are important for Democrats because if Gillum is elected, he’ll need allies in the House, Senate and on the Cabinet to support his campaign priorities.

One of the most notable is Gillum’s plan to raise teacher pay to at least $50,000, and better fund Florida’s public schools and its students.

If he ever needs help in Congress, he’ll likely have Crist’s ear, too. In a hint at his popularity, Crist – who unseated the one-termer Jolly 52 percent-48 percent in 2016 — raised more than $2 million for his first re-election bid. The Republican Buck only brought in just under $30,000, as of the end of September.

In a telling note, Crist also recently sent an email supporting Jacky Rosen, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Nevada.

“This is an important election and Florida is at the epicenter of it all,” Crist said.

“We are the largest swing state. What we do Tuesday is going to send a message to the rest of the country.”

Paula Dockery endorses Andrew Gillum as Ron DeSantis campaigns across town

Lakeland political leader Paul Dockery endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum today just as Republican Ron DeSantis campaigned in her hometown.

“Andrew Gillum is the governor that Florida needs right now,” said Dockery, who was elected as a Republican representing Lakeland in the state House and Senate over the course of 16 years.

“Our state stands at a crossroads — our schools are facing massive teacher shortages, nearly one in five Floridians don’t have health care, and both coasts are being impacted by dangerous environmental crises.”

Gillum touted Dockery as the latest former Republican official to jump off the GOP train and get on track with the Democratic campaign.

Of course, it’s been some time since many of the Republicans on that list, including Dockery, counted themselves as loyal Republicans.

The list reads in many ways like a #NeverTrump roll call, with Dockery joining former Rep. David Jolly and South Florida political commentator Ana Navarro among centrist Republican (or former Republican) voices backing Gillum’s progressive candidacy.

Dockery, who ran for governor as a Republican in 2010, always billed herself as a moderate and now works as a syndicated columnist. She’s been deeply critical of Republican President Donald Trump.

She issued her endorsement of Gillum a day after he briefly left the trail to return to Tallahassee after a mass shooting.

“During a time of tremendous challenges, Mayor Gillum has risen to the occasion,” Dockery said. “He has run a positive, inspirational campaign and put forward specific and ambitious plans that will expand health care coverage for 800,000 Floridians, pay our teachers a competitive salary, and stop pollution at its source.”

She took a swipe at Gov. Rick Scott’s “eight years of dysfunction and slash-and-burn tactics” and said Gillum could restore principle in Tallahassee.

““For too long, leaders in the Capitol have failed to address the pressing issues facing this state — and Ron DeSantis will continue the dysfunction that has paralyzed our politics,” Dockery said.

“As a member of Congress, DeSantis never passed a bill and spent more time talking about Donald Trump on Fox News than serving his constituents. That’s exactly the type of cynical, self-interested politics that has left our water polluted, our schools overpopulated, and our health care system dysfunctional.

“Mayor Gillum’s uplifting, substantive campaign has made me proud to be a Floridian — and that is why I am ready to bring it home this Tuesday.”

Former President Barack Obama gives a shout-out to David Jolly

Former President Barack Obama gave a shout out to a former foe during a campaign rally in Miami Friday. He mentioned former Republican Congressman David Jolly who recently announced he voted for Andrew Gillum for Florida Governor.

“He said the reason’s simple, it’s because I’ve served with Ron DeSantis,” Obama said. “That should tell you something. Let me tell you something, somebody that had served with me in my party voted for the other guy, I’d feel bad.”

Jolly ditched the Republican Party earlier this month, instead registering with no party affiliation. He became disenfranchised with the Republican Party after President Donald Trump was elected and has been a frequent critic, appearing regularly on MSNBC.

“I don’t imagine Congressman Jolly and Mayor Gillum agree on a lot, but maybe they, just like all of us, agree that there are some things bigger than politics,” Obama said, campaigning for Gillum.

Gillum faces Trump-aligned DeSantis in the race to succeed current Governor Rick Scott. Democrats nationwide are rallying behind Gillum, who represents a new and growing sect of the Democratic Party that is more diverse and more progressive.

If elected, Gillum would be the first African-American Governor in Florida.

A nod from former President Obama is a huge win for Gillum. Locally, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman pulled out a victory over former Mayor Rick Baker, a surge that happened after Obama publicly endorsed him.

President Trump has endorsed DeSantis and frequently tweets in his support as well as tweets attacking Gillum for what conservatives describe as “radical socialism.”

Obama appeared in Miami Friday campaigning also for U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. Nelson is facing a tough challenge from Governor Scott. While Democrats try to unseat incumbent Republicans to flip the Senate, they’re grasping on to Nelson just to keep that seat.

This is the most credible challenge Nelson has had since he was first elected in 2000.

Former Congressman David Jolly to host political talk show on radio

Former U.S. Rep. David Jolly is launching a radio show in the Tampa Bay and Space Coast areas on Wednesday.

“David Jolly: Unbiased and Unplugged” will air from 1 to 3 p.m. weekdays on AM 820 News in the Tampa market and AM 1060 News on the Space Coast. Both stations are owned by Genesis Communications.

“I’m excited to join the Genesis lineup,” Jolly said. “Florida, especially the I-4 corridor, is an increasingly important political landscape, and it’ll be great to reach it through the Genesis network.”

The show will include political commentary, interviews with guests and listener calls. Jolly will also post daily political commentary on the News Talk Florida website.

Jolly represented Florida’s 13th District, encompassing most of Pinellas County, from 2014 to 2017 as a Republican. Earlier this month, he announced he had left the Republican Party and shed all party affiliation.

Jolly has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump and has rallied students on college campuses against hyper-partisanship and dysfunction in Washington.

Jolly “is one of the most respected commentators out there, and we’re honored to have him on Genesis,” said Bruce Maduri, Owner and Managing Director of Genesis Communications.

“His legislative experience gives him a unique perspective on current affairs, and his commitment to bipartisanship is a much-needed component of our political discourse.”

Jolly succeeded the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young in office after Young’s death in 2014. He lost a re-election bid to current U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist in 2016.

He has since partnered with former Congressman Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, to push for bipartisanship and civility in politics.

While in office, Jolly sponsored a bill to limit the amount of time elected members of Congress could spend on campaign activity. The move alienated him from the Republican Party.

Jolly doesn’t have any current plans to run for office again but has said it’s not out of the question. He has also been a regular contributor on MSNBC.

Charlie Crist has $2.3M banked for CD 13 re-election bid

Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist added more than $188,000 to his campaign account between early August and the end of September, bringing his total fundraising past the $3.25 million mark.

Crist, who represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District, brought $114,000 of that cash via individual donors, including $104,000 contribs exceeding the threshold requiring donor names to be disclosed. Two dozen of those donors chipped in $2,700 apiece, the maximum allowable individual contribution to a congressional campaign.

The balance of the new receipts came in from PACs, with the National Association of Realtors Political Action Committee leading the way with a $5,000 check. Other household names on his list were AFLAC, AT&T, Merck, UnitedHealth Group, Wells Fargo and UPS.

Crist’s campaign account also spent about $80,000 during the reporting period, including $27,900 in polling topping the ledger and a plurality of those funds heading to payroll taxes and salaries for paid campaign staffers.

The former Governor, currently in his first term representing CD 13, finished the reporting period with more than $2.3 million banked and about $169,000 in campaign debt.

Crist faces Republican George Buck, a retired academic and firefighter, in his campaign for a second term in CD 13, which covers parts of St. Pete, Seminole, and mid-Pinellas. Buck is overmatched in the purple district — as of Sept. 30, he had raised just $27,000 for his campaign, including $8,500 in loans and candidate contributions. He has less than $5,000 banked and his campaign is burdened with $13,385.

After CD 13’s prior congressman, David Jollyannounced in March that he would not run to take back his old seat, Crist went from having solid re-election odds to be an overwhelming favorite.

Both the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball list CD 13 as a Democratic lock. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight estimates Crist has a 99.9 percent chance of winning re-election.

The veteran politician’s bankroll was large enough at the end of Q2 that he was able to toss $200,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the fundraising arm supporting the national Democratic Party’s goal of flipping the U.S. House.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

This is Charlie -- Charlie Crist TV ad

In new ad, Charlie Crist says he’s ‘always on call’ for his constituents

Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is rolling out a new ad for his re-election campaign touting his commitment to putting constituents first during his time in public office.

The ad, titled “This is Charlie,” features the first term congressman and former Governor answering a number of phone calls while he’s out and about in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

“Everywhere I go, it happens,” Crist says, before several clips of him answering his cell phone.

“I give my cell phone number to constituents. After all, you’re my boss. So whether it’s delivering benefits to Florida veterans, voting down the age tax on Florida seniors, or even trying to bring a little more civility and decency to Congress, you know I’m always on call for you,” he says in the ad.

The 30-second spot ends with the first-term Congressman picking up another constituent call.

Crist’s campaign said the new ad will start running on TV stations in the Tampa-St. Petersburg media market today.

“It is truly an honor to serve my neighbors in Pinellas County, representing the community that raised me and working every day on behalf of the people,” Crist said in a press release announcing the ad buy. “I will never stop fighting for my constituents – my bosses – always putting Florida first.”

Crist faces Republican George Buck, a retired academic and firefighter, in his campaign for a second term in CD 13, which covers parts of St. Pete, Seminole, and mid-Pinellas.

As of Aug. 8, Crist had raised nearly $3.1 million for his re-election bid and had about $2.2 million on hand. The veteran politician’s bankroll was large enough at the end of Q2 that he was able to toss $200,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the fundraising arm supporting the national Democratic Party’s goal of flipping the U.S. House.

Buck, meanwhile, has yet to break the $20,000 mark in total fundraising.

After CD 13’s prior congressman, David Jolly, announced in March that he would not run to take back the purple seat, Crist went from having the odds in his favor to a near-certain victory on Election Day. Political handicappers agree —both the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball list CD 13 as a Democratic lock.

Crist’s ad is below.

Ready for business: Charlie Crist opening campaign HQ

Congressman Charlie Crist is launching his official re-election campaign Saturday, and he’s opening a new campaign headquarters at 10 a.m. 

The office is located at 5100 First Avenue North, St. Petersburg.

After the opening, the campaign is hosting a canvassing event with volunteers to knock on doors to help get out the vote in Pinellas County.

At 2 p.m. Crist will host his 2nd Annual Community Block Party and BBQ at Dell Holmes Park with food and games for families.

The campaign will also collect canned goods for Feeding Tampa Bay to help Floridians affected by Hurricane Michael.

Crist is a Democrat representing Florida’s Congressional District 13 covering parts of St. Pete, Seminole and mid-Pinellas. He’s running against Republican George Buck, a retired academic and firefighter.

Buck is facing a tough climb against Crist who is a seasoned campaigner and skilled fundraiser. Crist has raised more than $3 million and has more than $2 million on hand. Buck has raised less than $20,000 and has less than $2,000 on hand.

The district leans slightly Democratic after redistricting shifted boundaries to include downtown St. Pete. Crist defeated former Congressman David Jolly, then a Republican, by just three points in 2014.

Crist and his predecessor have something in common — they both dumped the GOP. Jolly announced earlier this month he had changed his party affiliation from Republican to no party affiliation.

Crist formerly served as Governor as a Republican but switched to a Democrat after leaving office. He wrote a book about his transition called “The Party’s Over.”

The congressman has been spending a lot of his time before officially launching his campaign attending events supporting Andrew Gillum for Florida Governor and Tampa Bay area Democratic state candidates.

There hasn’t been any polling on the Crist-Buck matchup, but long before campaigning for the midterms began a poll showed Crist beating Jolly in a rematch and Jolly has much broader name recognition and fundraising prowess than Buck.

David Jolly officially breaks up with the Republican Party

Former Congressman David Jolly has left the Republican Party, he announced Friday on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.

“I left the party about five weeks ago. My wife and I both did,” Jolly said to a shocked panel and cheers from the audience.

Jolly has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and the Republican Party and said late last year that he thought Democrats should take control of the House of Representatives.

“I think we’ll be safer in a divided government,” he said.

Jolly said the tipping point for ditching the GOP came when he and his wife found out they are expecting their first child.

I hope our daughter learns two things from our example. The first is for three years we fought a fight for something we truly believed in that the Republicans could answer to better angels,” Jolly said. “The other lesson I hope our daughter learns [is] there are fights that at times wiser men and women walk away from … At some point, we get to judge the leadership integrity and the moral fiber of our political leaders and we get to say, you made a wrong decision and you need to leave.”

Maher asked Jolly if he was prepared to vote Democrat in the November election, prompting Jolly’s political affiliation announcement. He did not directly answer the question, but implied he may vote blue based on his previous assertion that the House should flip from Republican control.

Maher’s segment centered on bitter partisan divide.

Jolly now has no party affiliation, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office.

Barack Obama talked about a post-partisan America but he tried to do it through a two-party system,” Jolly said seeming to imply he either registered with a third party or chose to have no party affiliation. “I don’t think the future is between the two parties.”

Jolly lost his seat in Congress in 2016 to Charlie Crist. Crist also left the Republican Party after leaving the Governor’s mansion and ran against Rick Scott in 2014 for a second term as a Democrat.

Jolly also partnered with Democrat Patrick Murphy on a nationwide tour of college campuses talking about gridlock and dysfunction in Washington D.C. The two were briefly rumored earlier this year to run on a bipartisan ticket for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

Jolly is a regular contributor on the left-leaning MSNBC. He’s the second prominent conservative on that station to leave the GOP. Steve Schmidt, a former top adviser on John McCain’s presidential campaign and a former senior aide to President George W. Bush, announced in June he was leaving the GOP. He called the GOP “fully the party of Trump” in a tweet.

A request for comment from Jolly is pending.

Rays’ stadium dream reveal a reminder that team’s politics are still minor-league

Do the Tampa Bay Rays know what league they’re playing in?

I’m not talking about on-the-field, where they play in the MLB against the Yankees and the Red Sox. I’m talking about off-the-field, where the team is hoping to convince a cash-strapped community to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build it a new ballpark.

Because if the Rays are a major league team on the field, they are in the minor leagues when it comes to politics.

That was made clear again on Tuesday when the team unveiled an elaborate plan for a new domed stadium that would take them across Tampa Bay to the Ybor City section of Tampa at a cost of nearly $900 million.

The 30,842-seat stadium would be the smallest in Major League Baseball and would be covered by a fully enclosed and translucent roof, not a retractable dome.

While it was hard not to be dazzled by the architectural renderings, it was easy to see that the Rays have the same political problems they had a decade ago when the team wanted to build a new ballpark on St. Petersburg’s beloved waterfront.

The Rays did the same thing then as they did Tuesday: roll-out beautiful conceptual art of what the future may look like, without really explaining the financing of making the dream a reality.

That’s why a rag-tag grassroots organization (of which I was the one-time campaign manager) with a budget of just $40,000 was able to block the Rays multi-million dollar PR push for that new stadium. Part of the Rays’ problem then was that they had little or no buy-in from the political stakeholders in the community. Instead, they offered a gross distortion on the ‘Field of Dreams’ line: ‘You pay to build it. And we’ll come.’

Fast-forward ten years and the Rays are at it again. Wall Street guy Stu Sternberg believes that civic pride runs so strong in Tampa Bay that there’s no way the elected officials would really let the team abandon the community. The reality is the other way around: The Tampa Bay TV market is so much more lucrative than anywhere Sternberg can move his team that he’ll never quit Tampa-St. Pete, nor will his fellow MLB owners let him.

That’s why what was unveiled yesterday was not a ballpark, it was a community center (how many times did the Rays mention the meeting rooms?) with a baseball field in the middle of it. This is so a pliable County Commission and/or a Tampa City Council can justify diverting public money allocated for other uses to go to construction.

Another way to look at the Rays’ proposed home, with its smallest capacity in the majors, is that its a near-$1 billion TV studio. Filling a stadium is important, but the Rays make their profits via their local TV deal and by sharing in the revenue much-bigger-market teams get from their own TV deals. The Yankees have to go on the road and play somebody, right? In an alternate universe, the Rays don’t even have a stadium, just a field wrapped in a green screen so as to simulate one.

This is part of the reason why Stu Sternberg, whose every public appearance should make folks in Tampa Bay appreciate Jeff Vinik even more, could not avoid his “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” (Let them eat cake!) moment.

Minutes after essentially asking the community to be ready to pony up $600 or $700 million for HIS PRIVATE BUSINESS, Sternberg said HE’S NOT gonna get his fingernails dirty working on the project.

“Will you see more of me? Potentially, but I can’t say it’s going to be something where I’m shaking hands on every corner to get a ballpark built,” Sternberg said. “This has to work because it’s the right thing for Tampa Bay, but everybody in Tampa Bay should know I care about the area, and if I didn’t care and believe in it so much — the pressure’s been enormous to just fold up tent and go elsewhere and I’m not going to do that.”

That one sentence basically sums up the Rays’ attitude for the last ten years.

That’s why there were hardly any elected officials at yesterday’s press conference (Matt Silverman couldn’t even bother to properly pronounce Tampa Councilman Guido Maniscalco‘s name.)

That’s why the Rays remain the ONLY major league sports team in Florida without contract lobbyists.

That’s why the Rays have so few political boosters backing their drive for a new home. I mean, once you get past Ken Hagan and, maybe St. Pete’s Charlie Gerdes, who is there? Going by his measured comments after yesterday’s presser, it’s not even a lock that Mayor Bob Buckhorn is on board with this plan.

Recently, former U.S. Rep. David Jolly was hired by Shumaker Advisors, which is also home to Ron Christaldi, co-chair of the Tampa Bay Rays 2020 effort. Shumaker Advisors told the Tampa Bay Business Journal that Jolly’s hiring builds on the firm’s commitment to the Tampa Bay community, its businesses, people and causes. That includes the firm’s direct involvement with the Rays 2020 effort to secure the business community’s commitment to a new Ybor City stadium.

Rays booster Christaldi would seem to recognize what Rays ownership does not: that it’s $900 million dream project is not just a real estate project, it’s a political conundrum.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this post.

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