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Politics

With a Thankful Heart, David Jolly Bids Congress Farewell

January 1, 2017 - 4:45pm

Looking back at the last three years, David Jolly can’t help but feel grateful.

Jolly’s term as Florida’s 13th Congressional District’s congressman has come to an end, but his ride in Washington has been unlike any other.

Jolly himself admits he’s held a lot of jobs in Washington. You name it, he’s done it.

But when the opportunity arose to actually serve the people of Florida’s 13th congressional district as a congressman, things felt a little different. 

Jolly’s official congressional journey began in 2014 when he was thrust into the national spotlight after the death of his mentor and longtime employer, U.S. Congressman Bill Young. 

Following a nailbiter victory over former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Jolly found himself back in Young’s office, where the man he considered his close friend and confidant sat for so many years. 

This time, Jolly was taking over where Young left off. This time, he would make the job his own. 

At the time, Jolly said he couldn’t help but let his emotions bubble to the surface.

“I still remember when we walked...into what will always be Young’s office, I broke down crying,” he told Sunshine State News. “It was personal.”

Jolly was given the option to take Young's office. He refused. Instead, he took a smaller staff room and turned Young’s office into a conference room named after him in his memory. 

Once Jolly sat down in his chair to get to work, he didn’t have time to sit back and catch his breath.

“It was a tumultuous time [in Congress],” Jolly explained. “There were fights with Obama, a lack of productivity...and an unwillingness of leadership to move an agenda.”

Times were tough. Jolly recalled when House leadership refused to consider immigration reform, a political battle Jolly wishes had turned out different.

Yet in spite of the trials, Jolly said he still found there were successes to be had and victories to be celebrated. 

Some of those victories came from introducing bills to expand veterans’ healthcare options, to protect law enforcement officers and to curb the amount of time congressmen had to fundraise while working in D.C -- a bill which put a target on Jolly’s back.

Jolly said he was caught off guard by the sheer amount of time congressmen were required to make calls and raise money while on Capitol Hill.

For him, it was his biggest heartbreak.

“There’s a pay-to-play culture,” Jolly told SSN. “I never saw [Young] make a single phone call. He didn’t have to. The lessons and the direction to spend 20-30 hours a week to raise money...is real.”

Jolly decided he wanted no part in the shady fundraising efforts, so he introduced the STOP Act to ban members of Congress for asking for money while working in Washington. The legislation aimed to stop congressmen from spending more time raising money than what voters actually elected them to do. 

Jolly found triumph through the sharp pain of discovering the reality of fundraising in Washington -- and the legislation, he said, was his biggest success in office.

“Even though we didn’t get it passed, we had nine or ten cosponsors,” he explained. “We pulled the curtain back on an absolute truth.”

Not everyone felt the same way. The National Republican Congressional Committee called Jolly a liar, and after a 60 Minutes special ran on the fundraising in Washington, they never dropped another dime into Jolly’s campaign account again.

It was then that Jolly truly understood the meaning of blazing his own trail. With the NRCC out of the picture, Jolly found a newfound sense of freedom. 

He was no longer chained by the shackles of the Republican Party hitting him up to raise cash on their behalf. He could play by his own rules.

Without the NRCC’s help, Jolly fought hard for CD13 once more last year, but redistricting set him up at a disadvantage and he lost the election in a vicious campaign against former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

Crist takes office on Tuesday, but Jolly isn’t bitter. 

“I hope he is successful in this position for the county...as a resident and a voter, I hope he does well for as long as he chooses to [serve],” he told SSN.

As an experienced congressman, Jolly had some advice for Crist.

“[He needs to] recognize that the job is bigger than he is,” he said. “Charlie’s Achilles heel is that it has always been about Charlie. This is an opportunity for him to prove to the people of Pinellas County that it’s not all about him.”

While he wished him the best, he still set up the possibility that he would come back for a grudge match against Crist come 2018. 

“If he doesn’t honor that [commitment], and history indicates that will be a challenge for him, he will be vulnerable,” Jolly said.

Next time, Crist won’t be so lucky, Jolly said.

“If we run in 2018, we will beat him,” he said.

For now, 2018 is far away and Jolly is still mulling over his options. He said he and his wife would see what the future holds in a year and in 2020. 

At the end of his journey as CD13 congressman, Jolly still, however, says it always comes back to Bill Young.

For years, Young had the same office phone number. Jolly knows it by heart. As Jolly departs, he wanted to make sure he left a piece of Young still intact, so he had Young’s phone number shut down. It will be officially retired Jan. 3. 

The phone number will now live on as Young’s House office contact forever, a symbol of his lasting legacy in Florida politics.

At the end of his term, Jolly said he will always look back fondly on his time in Washington and will always be proud of his work.

“I’m a preacher’s kid who grew up not knowing a lot of people,” Jolly explained. “I never thought I’d meet a member of Congress, much less have the privilege of serving as a member of Congress….I’m very grateful.”

 

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

Comments

Jolly should stop acting like a liberal Democrat, and support President Trump. If not, he might as well kiss the Republican party goodbye.

Hey David what about vehicular homicide on Bruce b. Downs. Hit and run. What about your lawoffice

Thank you David for your service. We all expect to see you back running in 2018! Best wishes Congressman Jolly!

Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.

Well done, David. You'll be missed.

David Jolly is a very good man, just like his mentor Bill Young..........................we need more men like these in government!!!!

Yup, Jolly's "had a lot of jobs in Washington" OK: Lobbiest, Congressional Aide, and finally Congressman where he voted to fund Obama's "Illegal Amnesty" and he was vocally opposed to a Trump candidacy... In other words, a "three year Congressional seat" with nothing to show for it but inactivity and failure! (Does anyone want to bet that he DOESN'T return to his lobbiest roots?.... I'll take that bet. He no doubt wanted out before Trump slaps a "five year moritorium" on stepping out of Congress and into a Lobby.... What would he do then?...Real estate closings?) He needs some kind of "life experience", since he has had none up to now...

I met David Jolly when he came to Miami for an event and immediately liked him a lot. I worked in the California Senate when Ronald Reagan was governor and became a friend of his. Jolly reminds me somewhat of him and that era of politics when political rivals did not hate each other. I found him to be so far ahead of the pettiness that has permeated politics today. David is far removed from that sort of immature thinking. Definitely a man of the people his agenda is pure and without even the slightest hint of ego or self. He is what politicians were in the early days, clean and a genuine servant of the people he served. Don’t ever forget me David. A lot older than you are I find you to be the sort of elected official I really do admire and appreciate. The Stop Act was right. I saw it with my own eyes and most people forced to constantly fundraise did not like it. But that is the price one pays for being honest and forthright these days. What I find offensive is that the Republican Party chose to punish you by putting Charlie Crist into office. In the final analysis, what is admirable about a shameful gesture such as that? It will surly come back to haunt them. I will always remember you David and continue to be your friend.

I met Santa Claus once at Macy's during a trip to NY with my Daughter,..."and I immediately liked him a lot too"; But, sadly he was also a clever fake, just like David Jolly. People should spend more time researching candidates that think they would like to vote for; if they did we wouldn't be facing the problem's we have been burdened with over the last eight years by feckless inept Democrats and RINOS representing Florida in Congress.

I supported Jolly, his integrity and resolve to support his constituency was above reproach. I also voted for Trump, which has NOTHING to do with the job Jolly performed for the people and his dedication to the job. The people of Pinellas County really got this one wrong.

Please. Jolly the lobbiest "speaking out" against representatives raising money. That's a laugh. How many times did he vote to take away people insurance? How much time was wasted.on fruitless votes? This is why Pinellas voted him out. Unfinished business for sure.

WAKE-UP PINELLAS COUNTY <> FLORIDA <> AMERICA!!! DAVID JOLLY EXPOSED THE HISTORIC EXTENT OF THE FINANCIAL POLITICAL FUND RAISING CORRUPTION ON CAPITOL HILL THAT HAS DESTROYED OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM!!! OUR REPUBLIC IS DOOMED UNLESS A NEW NATIONAL INDEPENDENT POLITICAL PARTY IS ESTABLISHED ASAP!!! TRUMP IS NOTHING MORE THAN AN EGOTISTICAL, NARCISSISTIC, SELF-PROMOTER WHO HAS TURNED THE "WHITE HOUSE" INTO THE "GOLD HOUSE" <> GOLDMAN SACHS PERSONIFIED!!! WAKE-UP AMERICA!!!

Due to an interesting circumstance I personally spoke with congressman Jolly when he was running for the US Senate.namely about the Stop Act. Jolly's heart is was the right place serving CD 13. His downfall was poor judgement in picking his battles. I feel he should have been more assertive. Unfortunately Crist won that seat and we will have to put up with a min. of 2 yrs. of him. Crist is what I consider egotistical self serving and a worthless politician that will do whatever he needs to do to get elected. That we've seen as he changed parties for endorsements which tells you a lot about is character. He's a Charles Schumer when it comes to sticking his face in a camera with the media. If Jolly runs in 2018 he will have my support even though I am far out of his district. Congressman, use these next two years to hone your skills and develop the killer instinct that's needed.

Crist is an "a-whype" plain and simple...and ALWAYS will be. Pinellas County should, if there were truly any justice, be compelled to surrender their County Charter; They are too stupid as a group to govern their own little corner of their world, and taint the rest of the State with their choices for Congressional Representatives. Must be "something in the water" south of Tampa: Don't believe it? just check out your Congressional Representatives to see what a 'pack of misfits' you keep in office.

Thank you for your service.

"Platitudes",... they wouldn't be so bad if they weren't merely inane platitudes.

Well Done David. Well done. Your commitment, energy and successes achieved for your constituents are your legacy...and foundation for a future run, if you so choose. Your stalwart support for active duty personnel and Veterans will always be remembered. God speed.

I have known few politicians as dedicated to his actual job as was David Jolly. It is an honor and my privledge to know him.

The community of District lost a true loving politician. Let's see what Charlie Crist can do for someone other than himself

Glad he is leaving ! I Voted for Charlie even though I cant stand Charlie! Jolly lost my vote when he went against Trump!

I hope you recognize how dumb you sound. You voted for a guy that openly supported Hilary Clinton. Way to be!

I truly hope you know how ridiculous that sounds. Christ was more against Trump. You and people alike cost the US the one guy who was willing to reach across the aisle.

Although Congressman Jolly did not openly support Trump he was not a "Never Trumper". Those that did not support Congressman Jolly did Pinellas County a disservice. Look at who we got now. :(

Jolly would only reach across the aisle if there was some benefit to him, and that's the only reason for doing so. Good to see him departing!

Sounds like Congressman Jolly really cared about his constituents and community and had the integrity to stand up against the larger machine. If fundraising is the main priority for all alike and consumes 20 to 30 hrs a week its indeed a difficult task to actually try to do the job he was elected for. I hope people truely understand the real politics involved especially when their heart is in the right place. Best wishes to Congressman Jolly.

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