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Marco Rubio’s Gary Hart moment? David Jolly and Will Weatherford, both wrong but right

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Gauging by the traffic on,, and, as well as the open rates for our morning email, Sunburn, the past two weeks have been the busiest time in Sunshine State politics since last year’s election. Even the weekends have been hectic: Last Saturday saw Jeff Atwater announce that he was not running for the U.S. Senate, while Sunday was when Hillary Clinton surprised no one with her decision to run for president.

With so much going on, it’s a challenge to weigh in on every development. Especially if all you want to offer up is a lame “hot take.

Here are some miscellaneous thoughts on a few developments from this past week in Florida politics.

• Marco Rubio told América TeVe host Pedro Sevcec that he has “no skeletons in his closet,” although he prebutted himself by saying, “Like all human beings I’ve made mistakes …”

I genuinely do not know whether Rubio has any skeletons in his closet. I actually tend to believe a pol is clean right up until the point the feds find stacks of cash bundled in their freezer, and even then I need to be convinced something is afoul.

This said, Rubio laying down a gauntlet like “there are no skeletons in my closet” is an invitation to every investigative reporter worth their stack of notepads to fly straight to Miami or Tallahassee and start searching for said skeletons. Not that these reporters weren’t going to dig in on Rubio, but this interview reminded me of Gary Hart’s daring of the media to “Follow me around.

P.S. If David Rivera is one of your best friends, there is no doubt you have at least one skeleton in your closet and that would be the bones of David Rivera.

• After Atwater announced his decision not to run, pretty much every Republican member of Florida’s congressional delegation was written about as a possible 2016 candidate, including Pinellas County’s David Jolly, who has been in office for a little more than a year.

After SaintPetersBlog tweeted Sunday that the talk about Jolly being a possible candidate was “serious,” Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reported Tuesday that Jolly “is taking a serious look at running for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Marco Rubio. But Jolly, 42, told the Times he is in no rush to make a decision.”

Congressman Jolly is a dear friend, but it’s too soon after his election for him to be thinking about running for the U.S. Senate. The paint on the walls in his office in the U.S. House of Representatives is probably still wet.

Jolly’s wrong to be thinking about running after being in office only a year, right? Or is right to think about it? An experienced staffer and lobbyist, is there any doubt about Jolly’s familiarity with how Washington, D.C., works? No there isn’t. And he’s already gained a reputation for thoughtfulness and bipartisanship.

If the GOP field for this seat consists of LG Carlos Lopez-Cantera, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, and a several other middleweights, Jolly should take a hard look at running for the U.S. Senate. After all, he’ll likely be running against a Democratic opponent — Patrick Murphy or Alan Grayson — with a similar level of experience.

• The ideal GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2016 would be former House Speaker Will Weatherford, a once-in-a-generation leader. Unfortunately for Republicans, Weatherford took himself out of contention after he tweeted to his more than 20,000 followers, “My wife and I have an agreement that I will not run for office while we still have children in diapers.”

Other than knowing that Weatherford will get to spend more time with his wonderful wife and children, I don’t like this play at all. Not the part about Weatherford not running for the U.S. Senate (I’ve never thought Weatherford would be a candidate in 2016), but because Weatherford is cutting off the speculation about him running so early.

It would have benefited Weatherford to say something like what Jolly said … that he was taking a hard look at running, before demurring.

First of all, it would have been good for Weatherford’s new business efforts. Getting next to a possible U.S. senator is always a reason for someone to do business with you.

Second, Weatherford’s eventually going to run for something, probably in 2018. Unfortunately, by that time, it will have been a long time since Weatherford was in office. As bright as Weatherford’s star is, three years out of office is a long time for even the best and brightest.

Weatherford made the wrong move here. That’s what I thought until I looked again at this picture and changed my mind to thinking Will made the 100 percent right decision.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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