Jolly says he has work to get elected in newly-drawn district
U.S. Rep. David Jolly said he's always considered his congressional district to be the whole of Pinellas County.
By way of example, he told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board Monday he attended the July 4th parade in Safety Harbor. His wife, Jolly said, reminded him Safety Harbor is no longer in his district, which became decidedly more Democratic after a state Supreme Court ruling led to south St. Petersburg joining the 13th District and big chunks of GOP-leaning north county leaving.
"I couldn't tell you where the lines are," Jolly said.
The former aide to longtime Congressman C.W. "Bill" Young knows where he has work to do, though. And that's south Pinellas, including the strongly Democratic, heavily African-American neighborhoods of St. Petersburg like Midtown and Childs Park.
Taking votes away from Democrat Charlie Crist in those precincts won't be easy. But Jolly says he ready for the challenge.
"It's a part of the county that I haven't ignored," he said, ticking off his support for projects and contacts in south Pinellas. "I've always considered it to be one district. Now on introducing myself on the issues to the new part of the county, that's a real task ahead of us."
He noted that Roll Call recently featured him as one of the 10 most vulnerable Republican House members and the only incumbent running for reelection in a district rated safe for Democrats.
So what will be the pitch? Jolly said he'll stress the "Bill Young Model" of strong constituent service, noting that he helped arrange medical care at MacDill Air Force Base for a Air Force sergeant stationed in Germany. That sergeant's neighborhood? Midtown.
And he'll highlight his work on early childhood nutrition and education as well as technical training. He favors limited school choice, he said.
He also says he's open to considering stronger measures on assault weapons, including an idea to require anyone who purchases one to keep it locked up outside the home in a gun locker.
Some gun enthusiasts want the guns, but they should be subject to intense background checks, investigations and lengthy waiting periods, he said.
"Why would anyone need an assault rifle? I don't know. David Jolly, I don't need one," Jolly said.
Crist told African-American ministers in Clearwater on Saturday that he favors an assault weapon ban.
Jolly faces retired Marine brigadier general Mark Bircher in the Aug. 30 primary. Bircher has said Jolly's late decision to defend his seat has steeled his resolve.