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David Jolly Hopes to Rally Republicans at the Sunshine Summit

October 22, 2015 - 9:00am
David Jolly
David Jolly

With 2016 around the corner, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) will be hosting the Sunshine Summit in Orlando from Nov. 12-14 and the stakes will be high. The presidential hopefuls will take most of the spotlight but there’s another important race already taking shape as Rubio has said he will not run for a second Senate term. Florida Republicans Ron DeSantis, David Jolly, Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox are already off and running and they will be at the Sunshine Summit trying to win support for their Senate bids.

Over the next few weeks, Sunshine State News will look at the presidential and Senate candidates who will be on stage at the Sunshine Summit and what is at stake as they take their messages to Republicans across Florida. Starting today, Sunshine State News will turn its attention to the Senate hopefuls. Sunshine State News will focus on the presidential candidates who will be at the Sunshine Summit starting on Monday.


David Jolly had the appearance of a “man of the House.” He worked for Bill Young who spent more than four decades in the House. Jolly even won a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee.

But now, with redistricting likely making his Pinellas County district far more difficult for any Republican, Jolly is running for the Senate. Jolly will take his Senate campaign to the Sunshine Summit next month as he tries to introduce himself to Republicans across Florida. 

Jolly pulled off the upset over Alex Sink in the special election mandated after Young’s death and he showed far greater ability on the campaign trail than would have been expected by a first-time candidate. An excellent speaker who is sharp on policy, Jolly proved himself a hard worker on the stump who had a knack for outreach. 

During his brief time in Congress, Jolly has broken with conservatives a few times: backing same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court mandated it, being the only Republican to vote against a new committee looking at Planned Parenthood. But Jolly has played a little political ju-jitsu and tried to score points with conservatives on these matters, arguing that the federal government should stay out of marriage and noting there were already congressional committees investigating Planned Parenthood and another one would only cost taxpayers more money. 

Calling himself a “conservative who gets results,” Jolly has stressed his fiscal conservatism, something that will play well at the Sunshine Summit. Jolly also goes right on a few other issues including pushing back against Barack Obama’s executive actions giving illegal immigrants more time in the U.S., Common Core and other education issues and making sure the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base remains open even as normalization with Cuba continues.

Jolly announced last week that he had more than $658,000 in the bank. Certainly the Pinellas County congressman seems to have the right political instincts. Earlier this week, when Charlie Crist launched his bid for the seat Jolly is leaving, the Republican congressman crashed the event, throwing a few jabs and getting some media attention. It was a shrewd move. If there’s one thing Florida Republicans agree on, it’s loathing Crist who left the GOP in 2010 to run for the Senate with no party affiliation before joining the Democrats at the end of 2012. 

At the Sunshine Summit, Jolly won’t garner that kind of attention, of course, since he and the other Senate hopefuls will be in the shadows of the presidential candidates. But Jolly will be able to get himself in front of some key Republicans at the event. Having been in Congress for a year and a half, Jolly has the chance to make an impact at the Sunshine Summit as he aims for the Senate. 
Reach Kevin Derby at or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN

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