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David Jolly crashes Charlie Crist announcement, denounces him as a “huckster”

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Although Charlie Crist has always been an ambitious pol looking forward to advance his career, most Republicans in Florida took little issue with that until they had the choice to support him or a more conservative Republican in the 2010 U.S. Senate race. Their support for Marco Rubio grew so strong in early 2010 that the then current GOP Governor realized that he was likely to lose, and left the party to run as an independent to Rubio, only to lose to him by 19 percentage points. Crist then officially became a Democrat in 2012, and lost against Rick Scott in the race for governor last year.

Articulating the party’s disdain for Crist in the flesh on Tuesday was current CD13 Republican David Jolly, who succeeded the late C.W. Bill Young in Congress in March of 2014, but has announced that he’s leaving the seat in part because it’s newly drawn lines will make it much harder for a Republican to win in 2016.

“I care deeply who is going to represent me in Congress, I’m a constituent. And in Charlie Crist, you would have what I believe would be the worst member of Congress you would ever see serve,” Jolly said to reporters who gathered to inquire what he was doing at Childs Park in South St. Petersburg, moments after Crist officially declared his candidacy to succeed Jolly in Washington.

“A person who is in this out of political convenience, not political conviction, a huckster, and a fraud who will say absolutely anything he wants, just to get elected,” Jolly continued. Emphasizing that as a Pinellas County resident he would be a constituent under Crist, Jolly said that concept was unsavory to him. “I don’t want Charlie Crist to be my next member of Congress. And I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that there’s someone other than Charlie.”

Jolly recently said at a recent Tiger Bay Club that one of the reasons Congress is too dysfunctional is that too many representatives represent their political party and not their constituents, since most districts are so obviously slanted to be Republican or Democratic-leaning. He said that wasn’t the case in CD 13, which made him more accountable. Jolly said today that he has never contested the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in July that his CD 13 district was drawn unfairly, but did say that he regretted that fairness was defined by geographical compactness, as “opposed to true political diversity.”

“If we had more 50-50 districts, we would end the obstructionism in Washington D.C.,” he said today. “Unfortunately, what the Court ruled is to create one more supermajority district that favors a Democrat very strongly.”

Jolly then went on to say that he was not suggesting that he would oppose any Democrat who ran for the seat, just this particular Democrat.

“I would be proud to support my friend Rick Baker if he were to decide to run, but if not, and it’s a contest among Democrats, Charlie Crist is the one person who I hope goes down to defeat in the primary next August.”

Jolly said he has spoken to Baker, and says that even though the newly drawn district strongly favors a Democrat, “Rick Baker has won many of the new precincts before. I know he’s a person of conviction, unlike Charlie, and I know that if it were Rick Baker vs. Charlie Crist you’d see a contrast in leadership, vs. just political convenience.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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