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Joe Henderson: GOP message for David Jolly, ‘Play along. Or else.’

in 2017/Top Headlines by

It was a big story earlier this year when U.S. Rep. David Jolly proposed a law that would stop lawmakers, especially those named David Jolly, from spending at least four hours a day on the phone begging for money.

He even went on “60 Minutes” to promote his bill, called the Stop Act. He told a national audience how members of Congress have hours of fundraising for themselves and their party built into their daily schedules. They are given a script to follow and a list of potential donors to call.

They are expected to play along.

The ridiculous practice turns members of Congress into glorified telemarketers, which is why I thought his bill was a great idea.

Reality being what it is, though, I also wondered if he wasn’t writing his political obituary by going public. Like what he said or not (and I did like it) he was violating the code by revealing one of those things big-party bosses would just as soon you didn’t know.

Rebellion has consequences, especially from a member serving his first full term in the House.

I guess we are seeing that now.

Politico reported that the National Republican Congressional Committee has essentially abandoned Jolly as he prepares for an expected battle against Democrat Charlie Crist in November.

Let’s not get ahead of things.

Jolly first has to win the Aug. 30 Republican primary against Mark Bircher, who is attacking Jolly for his refusal to support Donald Trump. Most everyone expects Jolly will win, especially since the name “Trump” isn’t exactly magic these days.

Assuming that happens, he faces the prospect of an expensive and potentially nasty fight to keep his seat. And that’s where the NRCC silence is speaking loudly.

All this drama with the national committee shows how deeply Jolly must have annoyed his party’s leadership. If the anti-Trump movement turns into a ballot-box tsunami, Republicans could need every seat they can get to keep control of the House.

Yet, at this point, they appear willing to let a reasonably popular member lose without lifting so much as a finger to give him a lifeline.

“When we win this, we will have done it our own way, with nobody owning us,” Jolly told POLITICO.

Things could change after the primary, of course, as the big picture begins to take shape. Party bosses easily could decide that Jolly has been punished enough, and that even a guy who is a party rebel is better than a Democrat who will vote for things Hillary Clinton wants.

Totally conceivable.

It also should be noted that Jolly’s aversion to fundraising hasn’t left him penniless. The committee “Friends of David Jolly” has raised more than $1.4 million, according to the latest financial records.

Crist, by comparison, has raised $996,000.

Either way, the party sent a message for Jolly and those who might agree with him: Play along.

Or else.

Joe Henderson has had a 45-year career in newspapers, including the last nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. He covered a large variety of things, primarily in sports but also including hard news. The two intertwined in the decade-long search to bring Major League Baseball to the area. Henderson was also City Hall reporter for two years and covered all sides of the sales tax issue that ultimately led to the construction of Raymond James Stadium. He served as a full-time sports columnist for about 10 years before moving to the metro news columnist for the last 4 ½ years. Henderson has numerous local, state and national writing awards. He has been married to his wife, Elaine, for nearly 35 years and has two grown sons – Ben and Patrick.

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