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David Jolly For Governor? Former Representative May Run As An Independent

Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla. holds a container of mosquitoes while speaking of the House floor on Capitol Hill in Washington.
WUSF Public Media
David Jolly is considering a run for governor in 2022.

The Pinellas County resident left the Republican party in 2018, and says a run as in independent could sway others who have become dissatisfied with the GOP.

Former Republican Congressman David Jolly sees himself as the missing middle ground Floridians want as he gauges a statewide run next year as an independent.

His target is currently the governor’s office, which Republicans have held since Jeb Bush was elected in 1998.

“I'm not interested in being a spoiler,” Jolly said during an appearance Monday on the conservative podcast Bulwark.

Jolly said he’s looked into next year’s U.S. Senate race but believes he would only end up tilting the contest for Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, while allowing Gov. Ron DeSantis to be re-elected.

“I would suggest respectfully to my Democratic friends, if the party goes into the ‘22 cycle doing the same thing they've always done, the risk of losing both seats, and retaining Marco Rubio and Ron DeSantis, the odds are that's exactly what would happen,” Jolly said.

Several Democrats have been the subject of speculation about possibly running for governor, with the list topped by Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat. Others mentioned have included U.S. House members Val Demings, Stephanie Murphy and Charlie Crist, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, state Sen. Lauren Book of Plantation, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

Jolly exited the GOP in 2018, a year after leaving office, and said the Republican Party has continued to devolve into the identity politics of former President Donald Trump and away from conservative tenets that attracted him.

Before officially jumping from the GOP ship, the Pinellas County resident teamed with Jupiter Democrat Patrick Murphy, another former congressman, on a nationwide tour pushing for political common ground.

“I think the best shot for a change in leadership in the state of Florida may be an independent run that pulls together the disaffected Republicans that we're seeing by voter registration numbers are leaving the party throughout the state of Florida and other states across the country,” Jolly said.

The move, he said, would also pull “together Democrats that realize we need to win. Right? If we can, we can stand for anything we want to stand for in the state of Florida. But if we don't win, we don't get to make policy.”

Jolly also hopes to capture most of the nearly 40 percent of registered independents in the state who “want to break that duopoly.”

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