Democrats Back Outside-the-Party Candidate to Challenge David Jolly
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After winning a close special election over Democrat former state CFO Alex Sink, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., won’t have a Democratic opponent in November. But Democrats at the national level are rallying behind a candidate running with no party affiliation.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced on Friday, the last day to qualify for a congressional race, that it is backing retired Army Col. Ed Jany against Jolly despite that he's running with no party affiliation.
Jany had been a registered Republican but moved to the Democrats in the fall. But Jany didn’t switch quickly enough since Florida requires candidates to be members of their party for a year before qualifying.
Despite this being a swing district and Jolly edging Sink in a special election to win in March, Democrats do not have a candidate in one of the most competitive congressional districts in Florida. Sink announced last month that she would not run again. Earlier this week, Jessica Ehrlich, who ran for Congress in 2012 and dropped out of the special election after Democrats backed Sink, said she was not going to run. Civil rights leader Manuel Sykes dropped out of the race this week saying the Democratic leadership wanted him out. There were rumors that developer Joel Cantor would run as the Democratic candidate but, when the noon deadline passed on Friday, there were no Democrats in the race. With no Democrat in the race, the DCCC hopes rank-and-file party members will back Jany.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) had a field day at the DCCC's expense on Friday.
"This is a humongous recruitment fail for Nancy Pelosi and the DCCC,” said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, on Friday. “After losing all of their top recruits thanks to President Obama's toxic agenda, they are now stuck with a candidate who couldn't even run as a Democrat because he didn't register in time. This is truly embarrassing for Washington Democrats.”
Jolly said on Friday that he qualified to make the November ballot but his focus is not yet on the campaign.
“I am humbled and honored every day for the life opportunity I was given this past March to be the voice and advocate for our communities in Washington, and I thank my constituents for the trust they have placed in me to do this job and do it well,” said Jolly. “However, my focus is on my current work in the U.S. House of Representatives on behalf of the people of our district. The time for campaigning will come later this fall, but today is not that day.”
In the meantime, Libertarian Lucas Overby, who took 5 percent in the special election, filed on Friday and qualified for the ballot. Overby said last month he would not run again against Jolly.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.