Former Gov. Charlie Crist upended U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., in 2016 by a small margin but the freshman congressman is sitting pretty in 2018.
Crist announced on Thursday that he raised almost $450,000 in the first three months of 2018 and had $2.1 million in the bank.
"It's such an honor to serve the people of Pinellas County,” Crist said. “I'm grateful for each and every contribution and volunteer helping us continue our work to expand access to affordable health-care coverage, ban assault weapons, and protect our environment."
Despite Crist beating Jolly 52 percent to 48 percent last time out, Republicans have yet to find a big named candidate to take on the former governor. Last month, pointing to a special election where Democrat Connor Lamb flipped a U.S. House seat in Pennsylvania, Jolly opted out of a rematch against Crist.
“Politics is about timing,” Jolly wrote on Twitter. “Four years ago tonight I was elected in a district Obama won twice. Laura and I have considered another run, but watching Pennsylvania, this is not the year to reenter politics.”
With Jolly out of the mix, there are two lesser known Republicans lining up in businessman George Buck, who served in higher ed, as a firefighter and in the Army and the Air Force, and businessman Brad Sostack who served in the Navy.
Buck’s team announced on Thursday that they would be holding a campaign kickoff on Tuesday and showcased his background, including living in St. Petersburg for almost a quarter of a century and presenting him in the tradition of longtime U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., who represented the area for decades. According to his campaign, Buck will “revitalize and expand on Congressman C.W. Bill Young ‘s legacy for the citizens of Pinellas County, its veterans and first responders.” Buck’s campaign team also showcased his top issues.
“Healthcare, veterans, Medicare, national security and returning education back to the states are among his priorities,” Buck’s campaign noted. “His proven leadership in times of crisis, his ‘boots on the ground’ philosophy and qualifications bring fresh and realistic approaches that have not been seen in Washington in quite a while. He looks forward to a positive campaign, meeting citizens, and tackling challenges.”
In the meantime, even with two Republicans looking to challenge Crist, national pundits like the Democrat’s chances to hang onto his seat come November. The Cook Report listed Crist as holding a “Safe Democratic” seat after Jolly turned down running again.