Jan 25, 2021 - News
Scoop: David Jolly eyes independent run for Florida governor
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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