1. Florida Politics

As he runs for Senate, U.S. Rep. David Jolly vows to do his job

U.S. Rep. David Jolly is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Published Oct. 6, 2015

CLEARWATER — Perhaps he didn't mean to rough up a fellow Republican, but U.S. Senate candidate David Jolly ripped apart Marco Rubio on Monday.

"If you're holding a current office and running for another office you should be under extremely strict ethical scrutiny in terms of whether or not you're doing the job to which you were elected," U.S. Rep. Jolly told a Suncoast Tiger Bay Club luncheon crowd when asked about politicians running for one public office while holding another. "For somebody that fails that test, well, then they don't deserve to be elected — either to the office they're seeking or to the office they currently hold."

Jolly, R-Indian Shores, never mentioned anyone by name, but he might as well have been talking about Rubio, who has been facing pointed questions on the presidential campaign trail for having one of the worst voting records in the U.S. Senate. PolitiFact noted recently that Rubio had missed the most votes between January and Sept. 16, though fellow presidential candidate Ted Cruz of Texas actually has a worse absentee rate — 11.3 percent of votes missed, compared with 10.9 percent for Rubio — when their entire Senate careers are considered.

Jolly, 42, supports Jeb Bush for president, but told the Tampa Bay Times he did not intend to criticize Florida's junior senator, whose job he is seeking.

"I wish I saw Marco voting more in the Senate, but that's a decision for him to make," said Jolly, vowing to miss few votes while running for Senate because "my first responsibility is to serve in the House of Representatives."

Rubio has faced questions about his attendance records several times in recent weeks, particularly from Donald Trump, and makes no apologies.

"I've figured out very quickly that the political establishment in Washington, D.C., in both political parties is completely out of touch with the lives of our people," the Miami Republican told Sean Hannity in a radio interview last month. "That's why I'm missing votes, because I am leaving the Senate. I'm not running for re-election, and I'm running for president because I know this: Unless we have the right president, we cannot make America fulfill its potential."

Jolly was elected in a 2014 special election to fill the unexpired term of his old boss, the late C.W. Bill Young. The Pinellas congressional seat is one of the country's most politically competitive, but Jolly announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate after the Florida Supreme Court ordered legislators to redraw several congressional districts. Jolly's district is expected to be redrawn leaning heavily Democratic.

Other Republicans running for the Senate are Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, and little-known defense contractor Todd Wilcox. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater last week said he is reconsidering a run and Jolly lamented that Atwater had left many Republicans "at the altar" by suddenly changing his mind earlier this year about running.

Democratic consultant Gregory Wilson reminded Jolly of that quote and asked if he were doing the same by running for the Senate so soon after winning the congressional seat. He would have preferred to continue serving in the U.S. House, Jolly said, but then the Florida Supreme Court effectively turned his 50/50 district into one "that virtually every person in the political sphere will tell you no Republican can win."

He noted that his Congressional District 13 was one of the few in the country where representatives have to consider the interests of their constituents first, and their political party second. Florida as a whole is similarly divided, he said, and he would hope to bring to the U.S. Senate the same mind-set he brought to Congress.

"We need to get back to responsible governing," Jolly said, suggesting he is fighting "for the soul of the Republican Party. … The bottom line: We need to reset a lot of the vitriolic rhetoric you hear today, and elect people who understand they're elected to hold the public trust."

Contact Adam C. Smith at Follow @adamsmithtimes.


  1. FILE - In this June 20, 2018 photo, immigrant children walk in a line outside the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children a former Job Corps site that now houses them in Homestead, Fla.  Migrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border last year suffered post-traumatic stress and other serious mental health problems, according to a government watchdog report obtained by The Associated Press Wednesday. The chaotic reunification process only added to their trauma. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File) BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Since Homestead’s closing on Aug. 3, at least $33,120,000 has been paid to Caliburn, the company contracted by the government to run Homestead.
  2. The economies of Canada and Florida go together like, well, palm fronds and maple leaves, as seen outside the Sweetwater RV Resort in Zephyrhills. (Times file photo) KATE CALDWELL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    To qualify under the Canadian Snowbird Act introduced in Congress, the visitors would have to be older than 50 and would have to own or rent a home here.
  3. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  4. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks to an unidentified man outside of Tampa Bay Academy Monday, April 15, 2019 in Tampa. CHRIS URSO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Richard Corcoran has convinced the State Board of Education to sign off on a new funding formula for the 28-college system, which, with more than 320,000 students, is widely viewed as one of the...
  5. Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Miami while visiting Ball & Chain in Little Havana for a meet-and-greet with Hispanic voters on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. [CARL JUSTE CJUSTE | Miami Herald]
    While candidates vie for votes in Iowa, New Hampshire and other early primary states, the struggle in Florida six months from the primary election is about big money.
  6. A view of the I-275 northbound Sunpass lane at the Skyway Bridge. VRAGOVIC, WILL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The lost money is from unpaid tolls stemming from problems with the vendor Conduent State & Local Solutions.
  7. Mark. S, Inch, Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections, at the State Capitol, May, 1, 2019. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Mark Inch said the root of the problem lies with low salaries and long shifts for prison guards.
  8. Female driver texting on mobile phone while driving. STAR TRIBUNE  |  baona/Star Tribune/TNS
    Police are choosing to issue warnings instead of tickets — so far.
  9. Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, speaks to delegates during the 2019 Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Springfield, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) JESSICA HILL  |  AP
    Kimberly Diaz Scott was the Central Florida regional director for Charlie Crist’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign when he ran as a Democrat against Rick Scott.
  10. In this July 22, 2008, photo, traffic passes in front of the New York Times building in New York. MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP
    The allegation stems from their reporting on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.