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Jolly at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee meeting in 2014. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Former U.S. Rep. David Jolly is "strongly considering" a run for Florida governor in 2022 as an independent, a source close to him tells Axios.

Why it matters: Jolly, who repped Florida's 13th district as a Republican from 2014 to 2017 and publicly left the GOP in 2018, has built a brand on cable news as a critic of former President Trump and his allies in Congress.

The state of play: Since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, an unusual number of Republicans in the three biggest Tampa Bay-area counties have switched parties, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

  • Election supervisors say 2,025 Republicans switched parties in the eight days after Jan. 6 — mostly dropping their party affiliation— compared to just 306 Democrats, even though Ds outnumber Rs in those counties.
  • The number switching is far higher than in the same period following the 2016 presidential election, per the Times.

The big picture: Jolly has also been using his influence to attract Republicans who have left the GOP to a new party he's chairing — the Serve America Movement, or SAM.

  • He calls SAM, born in 2017, a "big tent party" and also hopes to woo defected Democrats and independents.
  • He tells Axios it's working: "The new party conversation has just increased dramatically since January 6," Jolly said.

The lingering question: Are there enough anti-Trump Republicans to make room for a new party, or will most stay put and hope the GOP eases back from the radical fringe?

  • Jolly's answer: The GOP is "a party of Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan and the QAnon woman from Georgia now," he told us. "The greater that disruption, the greater the chance for a third party to emerge."

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Scoop: Karin Housley weighing run for Minnesota governor

Karin Housley conceding her Senate race in 2018. Photo: Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Former U.S. Senate candidate Karin Housley is the latest Republican to acknowledge she's considering a run against Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz next year.

What she's saying: "We're talking about it," Housley, a state senator from St. Mary's Point, confirmed to Axios. "We haven't completely ruled it out."

Jan 29, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

A sneak peek inside Minnesota's only 5-star hotel

This rendering shows what the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Minneapolis will look like. Photo: Smallwood Architects

Developer United Properties shared this not-yet-publicized rendering of the Four Seasons lobby in downtown Minneapolis with Axios.

The state of play: The 222-room hotel — which will be Minnesota's only five-star property — is part of the 37-story RBC Gateway Tower office-retail-condo project at Nicollet and Washington, the largest current development in the Twin Cities at a cost north of $400 million. It's set to open in 2022.

$1.2 trillion "hard" infrastructure bill clears major procedural vote in Senate

Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The Senate voted 67-32 on Wednesday to advance the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

Why it matters: After weeks of negotiating, portions of the bill remain unwritten, but the Senate can now start debating the legislation to resolve outstanding issues.