David Jolly Cites Pennsylvania Results for Not Running in 2018

Former congressman says he’ll be focused on Trump primary in 2020

Former Rep. David Jolly tweeted Tuesday night that he won’t run for his old seat in 2018 (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Florida Rep. David Jolly has decided against a 2018 rematch with Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, who defeated him in 2016. 

The former GOP congressman, who has alienated himself from the national GOP, tweeted his decision late Tuesday night while all eyes on Twitter were following the results of the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District. 

“Laura & I have considered another run, but watching PA, this is not the year to re-enter politics,” Jolly wrote. At the time of his tweet, GOP nominee Rick Saccone looked to be narrowly losing a district that President Donald Trump won by 20 points in 2016.

Jolly lost to Crist, a former GOP governor, by 4 points in 2016. He had been running for the Republican nod for Senate that year but made a made a last-minute decision to seek re-election when GOP Sen. Marco Rubio reversed course and announced he’d run for re-election.

Less than three months after Crist ousted him, Jolly hired a Crist staffer as a senior adviser for the 2018 cycle. He had left the door open to running for his old seat, which Hillary Clinton carried by 3 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 13th District race Likely Democratic

Ryan: Democrats’ Success in Pennsylvania 18 Not Repeatable

There was no love lost between Jolly and Republicans in Washington, D.C — and there still isn’t. As a congressman, he frustrated GOP members who felt he didn’t show much loyalty after they helped him win a 2014 special election. In 2016, he pledged not to directly raise any money for his re-election. Republicans feared he was jeopardizing a district that had been redrawn to be more favorable to Democrats.

Jolly’s poor relations with the National Republican Congressional Committee came to a head during a “60 Minutes” episode in which Jolly criticized the committee for its fundraising demands. The NRCC disputed Jolly’s characterization of those demands and did not financially assist his re-election efforts in 2016. 

Even so, Jolly’s flirtations with a rematch may have been keeping other Republicans from taking a look at this seat. The only Republican listed on the FEC website for Florida’s 13th District hasn’t raised any money. The filing deadline is May 4.

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