David Jolly wins CD 13 GOP special primary

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David Jolly, former lobbyist and 20-year general counsel for U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, easily won the special GOP primary Tuesday in the race to replace his former boss for Florida’s Congressional District 13.

As of the close of the polls in Pinellas County, with early voting and 94 percent of districts reporting, Jolly received 20,096 votes, or 45 percent of the 45,112 votes cast. State Rep. Kathleen Peters came in second with 13,993 votes (31 percent) and former retired Marine Corps Reserve Brigadier Gen. Mark Bircher, received 11,023 votes, for 24 percent.

Jolly, who worked intimately with Young for more than two decades, took advantage of an early lead in the primary by representing himself as the “chosen” successor by the Pinellas County Republican elite, including Young’s widow Beverly.

The most difficult hurdle in the Indian Rocks Beach resident’s campaign, something surely to continue through the general election, is Jolly’s history as a Washington lobbyist. In the shortened schedule of the special election, Jolly successfully fought off the “Washington insider” label, where opponents — both from and within the GOP — accused the former lobbyist that he has no idea what Pinellas needs or wants and is only in the race for “his clients.”

Jolly will now face former Democratic Florida CFO Alex Sink and Libertarian candidate Lucas Overby in the March 11 general election to succeed Young, who died in October after representing Pinellas County for more than 40 years.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.