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David Jolly says Charlie Crist asked Bill Young to resign and endorse him in 1997

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David Jolly got maximum exposure on Tuesday when he crashed Charlie Crist’s announcement in St. Petersburg, where he is running for the CD 13 seat that Jolly is vacating, calling the former Florida governor a “huckster” and ” a fraud.”

Appearing on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Wednesday morning, Jolly showed no signs of ceasing his war of words with the man who could succeed him in Washington next year. Jolly criticized Crist by saying that he attempted to press the late C.W. Bill Young to resign from his congressional seat in 1998 so Crist could run for the office. Jolly worked with Young from 1995 to 2006.

The anecdote was relayed after Jolly fielded a hostile phone call on the show.

“That’s the problem with you Republicans,” the Democratic caller identified as Douglas from Clearwater said, disapproving of Jolly’s appearance at the Crist announcement. “You don’t know how to talk nice. You don’t know how to be diplomatic. You don’t know how to be gracious, even in defeat. Those comments were outrageous what you said about him. He’s a fellow Floridian, by the way.”

The caller went on to criticize Republicans on a number of fronts, such as the redistricting lawsuits filed in Florida that have cost millions, the numerous investigations on Benghazi and Planned Parenthood, and the repeated votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

When given the chance to respond, Jolly answered some of the complaints, before segueing to Crist, where his vocal pace quickened as he relayed his disdain once again.

“I don’t apologize for my comments about Charlie Crist,” he said. “My comments reflected the frustration of people across the state who don’t know if he’s a Republican, an independent or a Democrat. I also will tell you this: this is a man who in 1997 walked into Bill Young’s office while I was there, and suggested that Bill Young was too old to serve, suggested that Bill Young should resign and retire, and endorse Charlie Crist because he was looking for another office to run for. When Bill Young refused to do that, Charlie Crist took on Bob Graham — this is a person who looks only to run for his own political future, and out of simple political convenience and not political conviction, and I will do everything I can to make sure that he is not the next member of Congress from Pinellas County.”

Crist was steamrolled by Graham in that 1998 U.S. Senate race, losing by 26 percentage points. He recovered in 2000 by winning the job as education commissioner over Democrat George Sheldon.

In 1997, Young was 66 years old. He went on to serve eight more terms and 16 more years in Congress before passing away at the age of 82 two years ago.

Kevin Cate, an aide working for Crist, emailed a response to FloridaPolitics.com.

“The petty grandstanding, name calling, and heckling from a distance by Mr. Jolly prove exactly why we need to elect more decent, honest people like Charlie Crist.”

Jolly is running in an intense GOP battle for U.S. Senate in 2016, where his relentless criticism of Crist will undoubtedly play well to the base, who considers Crist an apostate after he left the party to run as an independent for Senate in 2010.

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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