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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jolly should stay in House, take on Crist or Lynn, says Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos



David Jolly is preparing for a big debate tonight against Alan Grayson, a possible Democratic opponent this November for a U.S. Senate seat.

But a political ally Monday said he wished Jolly would reconsider his decision to run for Marco Rubio's seat and stay in his current job, congressman for the 13th District.

Jolly would be the best bet to take on the Democratic nominee of a now heavily Blue district either former governor Charlie Crist or former Obama admnistration official Eric Lynn, said Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.

 Cretekos, who served for decades as a top aide to Congressman C.W. "Bill" Young, said he's recently encouraged Jolly to  keep the Congressional seat in Republican hands.

"He is a rising star," Cretekos said of Jolly, who gained national exposure Sunday on CBS's "60 Minutes" for advocating that federal officials be barred from soliciting campaign donations. "I think you can make the argument that he could continue to serve Pinellas County in a very powerful position if he stays on the House side."

Several weeks ago, Cretekos held a different opinion, telling the Tampa Bay Times that Jolly couldn't switch back to the CD-13 race because it would confuse supporters and voters, leaving an impression of indecision.

But after Jacksonville Congressman Ander Crenshaw announced his retirement earlier this month, Cretekos reconsidered--- then reached out to Jolly.

And no other high-proifile Republicans have jumped into the race. Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker said earlier this month he wouldn't run.

Crenshaw's spot on the defense appropriations subcomittee would be a natural fit for Jollly and help defend Tampa Bay's defense industry. He could become the district's next Bill Young, Cretekos said.

"I continue to encourage him to consider it," Cretekos said.

Jolly decided to run for Senate in July, shortly after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the district needed to be redrawn. The new map brought in a heavily Demcratic chunk of south St. Petersburg into the district and trimmed off GOP-leaning areas in north county.  At the time, Jolly acknowledged that the political demographics of the district weren't favorable for Republicans.

His Senate campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

[Last modified: Monday, April 25, 2016 3:37pm]


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