David Jolly, the former congressional aide who surprised much of the political world 15 months ago by winning a special election for a Pinellas County congressional seat, is running for U.S. Senate.
“Based on my record as a conservative who has gotten results in the United States Congress and who has advanced the conservative principles we ran on, I am asking the people of Florida to let me serve as their next United States Senator,” said Jolly, 42, who confirmed his plans to the Tampa Bay Times Monday morning.
The lawyer and former lobbyist joins a Republican field that so far includes U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of northeast Florida and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami. They are vying for the seat held by Republican Marco Rubio, who is running for president and says he will not seek re-election. Other potential Republican contenders include former Attorney General Bill McCollum and U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller of northwest Florida.
Jolly cracked the door open for a Senate run after Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced he would take a pass, but the move became much more logical for him earlier this month after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that state lawmakers must re-draw the boundaries of eight congressional districts including his. Jolly represents Congressional District 13, one of just a few dozen truly competitive swing districts in the country, and most observers expect it to become a heavily Democratic district once the lines are redrawn to include voters in southern St. Petersburg.
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Jolly defied the predictions of most prognosticators by beating Florida’s well-known Democratic former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in a nationally watched special election in the spring of 2014. He faced no serious opposition in the November election because Democrats, through a series of missteps, failed to field a candidate.
In his brief tenure in Congress, Jolly has often positioned himself as a pragmatic, moderate Republican. He came out in support of same-sex marriage, for instance, and he voted against a GOP House plan because it called for dramatic changes to Medicare.
“Over the next year, I intend to run for the United States Senate on an unwavering platform that will reject the politics of division and class warfare that have defined the current Administration, reject the failed foreign policies that have projected only weakness and apology on the world stage, and embrace a new economy founded on the principle that individuals and families, not government bureaucrats, create success,” he said in a statement released by the campaign. “I will stand up everyday for the American people and say once and for all that you should be allowed to determine your own future, practice your own faith and pursue the American dream — and that includes making your own health care coverage decisions.”
A native of Dunedin, Jolly received his Bachelor of Arts in History from Emory University in Atlanta, and earned a law degree from George Mason University School of Law. He married earlier this month, and resides in Indian Shores with his wife, Laura.