Monday, April 23, 2018
Politics

Can Pinellas congressional candidate David Jolly unite local Republicans?

A question is emerging amid the political maneuvering over Pinellas County's open congressional seat: Who is David Jolly, and will the local Republican establishment rally around him?

Jolly, 41, a lobbyist, lawyer and former aide to the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, announced on Saturday he is running to fill the congressional seat Young held for nearly 43 years.

He is the first major Republican candidate to charge full-steam into the race, but other well-known hopefuls are considered on the brink of entering, setting up the possibility of a dogfight for the GOP nomination. On Monday, Safety Harbor Mayor Joseph Ayoub added his name to those considering it.

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, former gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink has begun her campaign for Congress, challenging St. Petersburg lawyer Jessica Ehrlich. Libertarian Lucas Overby already is campaigning.

Because Young died Oct. 18, a special election has been scheduled with a primary barely two months away — Jan. 14. The general election will be March 11.

Unlike some other potential candidates such as former Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard and Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Jolly has not run for local office before and is not widely known.

"I really don't think the timing is right for a Washington lobbyist to move to our district and run for Congress," said state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater. Latvala added, "I will guarantee you there will be another candidate besides him."

Jolly sharply denies Latvala's characterization as someone who just moved into the area. He said he's a Pinellas County person who also happens to be the best-qualified Republican for the job.

"I was born in Dunedin, with deep family roots, and for the past 20 years I've worked on behalf of the county and lived in the county full-time since '06," Jolly said in an interview Monday. He said he lives in a home he owns in Indian Shores.

Though he cited local roots, Jolly also stressed his Washington experience, which he said was geared toward helping Pinellas.

As general counsel to Young, including the time Young chaired the powerful U.S. House Appropriations Committee, Jolly said he helped as the congressman supported local beach renourishment projects, improvements to the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science in St. Petersburg, U.S. 19 and the Bay Pines VA Medical Center.

"In a lot of ways, no other candidate understands the issues of this community as they play out in Washington because they haven't been there," Jolly said.

Jolly said his father was a pastor at Clearwater's Calvary Baptist Church, and then moved the family to Miami, and then to Dade City, where he was at First Baptist Church. Jolly graduated from Pasco High School and then from Emory University in Atlanta.

"Somewhere in college, I just became very passionate about not so much politics, but public policy," he said.

He landed a bottom-rung job in Young's Washington office in 1995 and was fortunate to quickly move into a job as a legislative aide. He began taking night classes and graduated with a law degree from George Mason University.

He left for a year to work for a Washington securities firm, but the events of 9/11 moved him to return to government service, he said. He went back to Young's office as general counsel, at a time when "Mr. Young was in a remarkable place in a remarkable time in history."

He moved to Pinellas and in 2006 headed Young's district office for about a year, which he called "the best job in Congress."

But then he left the staff and joined a Washington consulting firm, while maintaining a Pinellas residence. He later founded companies specializing in communications, law and lobbying. He remained an attorney for Young and friend to the family.

On the personal side, Jolly said he has been married for 15 years but is in the midst of a divorce. He has no children.

Politically, Jolly scored an endorsement from Young's widow, Beverly, who praises his knowledge of Washington's inner workings and his regular visits to comfort injured soldiers. She pondered running for the seat herself, but acknowledged, "David knows 100 percent more than I do." Mel Sembler, former U.S. ambassador to Australia and Italy, also endorsed Jolly on Monday.

Jolly said he plans a campaign kickoff event soon and said he is not worried about "paid political sharks that are trying to paint me as a political insider."

Comments
Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

With the third largest Cuban American population, Cuba’s culture is celebrated throughout the Tampa Bay area and in a diversity of ways.Flags hang in homes, fashion is worn, music performed, food served.But be wary of honoring that heritage by puttin...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott’s first policy idea as a U.S. Senate candidate won’t happen and most of his fellow Republicans don’t support it.But it’s a surefire applause line at political rallies.Scott wants term limits for members of Congress: 12 ye...
Published: 04/23/18
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18