Republican Rep. David Jolly insists he’s not yet decided to drop out of the Florida Senate race and run for re-election to the House in his 13th District, but his mind certainly appears made up.
“We’ve shown that I know how to win this district, I know how to win that county and do so on my own terms,” Jolly told reporters Wednesday. “And that’s how I would enter this race.”
Told that it sounded like he was announcing plans to run for re-election, Jolly said, “No, no, absolutely not.”
The Florida congressman said he is consulting with his wife and they will announce a decision late Friday morning at an event in the district. He said three options remain on the table: stay in the Senate race, run for re-election to the House or not run for Congress at all.
“I’m serious,” he said. “All three are all on the table.”
Jolly has already given several indications that he is ready to stick with his district, which became more Democratic after a recent statewide redistricting effort. First, he said he plans to drop out from the Senate race and support incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio if he changes his mind and decides to run for re-election, which Jolly said he believes Rubio will.
“There has been a clearly coordinated effort by Republican leaders on the other side of the Capitol to convince Marco to stay in,” Jolly said. “It’s been very well orchestrated for two or three weeks. His vocabulary has changed. He’s continued to refuse to endorse one of his best friends who happens to be in the race.”
Also, Jolly says he’s the only Republican who can beat Charlie Crist, a former Florida governor who is running on the Democratic ticket in the 13th District. Crist has made previous bids for office in the Sunshine State as a Republican and as an independent.
“There’s nobody in District 13 that could hold the seat,” Jolly said. “And it’s a district Obama now won by 12 [points] as a result of redistricting. Charlie Crist obviously brings enormous popularity. But at the same time, I think a lot of the outside numbers show that we would retain the seat and we would beat Charlie Crist.”
“I can tell you my commitment is to the Senate race,” Jolly added. “We will make a decision before Friday. If we end up in the House race, boy, that’s going to be a heck of a race against Charlie Christ. Watch out.”
Jolly said he’s in this position now because Senate GOP leadership hasn’t lifted a finger to help him or any of the Republicans running for Senate.
“I didn’t create this paradigm,” he said. “Marco and Mitch McConnell created this paradigm for five candidates who have been running for nearly a year in the Republican primary. The message from Senate Republican leadership is very clear.”
Jolly added: “If they are unsuccessful in getting Marco in the race, boy, they have done a lot of damage to the Republican field and in many ways have made an in-kind contribution to the Senate campaign of Patrick Murphy.”
Murphy, who represents Florida’s 18th District, is running in the Democratic Senate primary against Rep. Alan Grayson.
Jolly said the Senate GOP leadership seems to have decided that “if it’s not Marco, they’re not sure they’re going to get into the race.”
The filing deadline for candidates in Florida is June 24.