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David Jolly eyes independent run for Florida governor

By: Ben Montgomery, Axios

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.

Image courtesy of Getty.

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