Former Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly was named executive chairman of the Serve America Movement, an organization that is active as a third-party in some states and is otherwise a non-partisan political reform organization elsewhere.
Jolly was a two-term congressman from Indian Shores who lost his reelection bid in 2016 to now incumbent Democrat Charlie Crist after the once Republican stronghold district was redrawn to favor Democrats. Jolly also briefly ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2016 but dropped out of the race after incumbent Marco Rubio decided to seek reelection when his presidential bid fizzled.
Jolly then found himself increasingly splitting from some of the platform and policies of the Republican Party amid the rise of President Donald Trump for whom Jolly was an outspoken critic. Jolly left the party in 2018 to become an independent.
He now works as a political contributor for NBC News and MSNBC, where he has become a leading critic of Trump and his supporters.
The Denver-based Serve America Movement, or SAM, was established in 2016 as a 527 non-profit political organization, with the stated goals of advancing greater competition and accountability in state and national politics, and to build cross-partisan consensus around issues.
It also has registered as a third party in some states and has run candidates, though it also endorses Republicans or Democrats in other election contests.
Jolly intends to maintain his no-party affiliation status, at least for the foreseeable future.
“I’m very pleased to be joining the SAM team. We are Democrats, Republicans, and independents, some current and some former, who are committed to working together to change today’s politics by focusing on greater competition, accountability, and transparency,” Jolly wrote in a news release. “In some states and some races that means we may challenge the two major parties by running a candidate under the SAM party, but in others we may look to endorse a candidate from another party who reflects SAM’s principles.”
As chairman, Jolly’s focus will be to help SAM expand its reach nationally and build on the organization’s momentum from the 2018 cycle.
SAM has raised more than $2.6 million and spent about $2.4 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Its major donors include Ferrari ($250,000,) Morgan Stanley ($157,000,) and B-Fore Capital ($140,000.)
In 2018, SAM became one of only eight official parties recognized by the state of New York after getting more than 50,000 votes for its nominee for Governor. SAM used its ballot line to run more than 100 candidates in 2019, with 51 of those candidates winning their elections to offices in 21 counties across New York.
Nationally, SAM has a reform agenda, supporting initiatives to eliminate partisan gerrymandering, end public financing of closed partisan primaries, advance ranked choice voting, and expand vote by mail and vote from home for all registered voters.
“Today’s democracy has left many voters without a voice and has left all Americans with a government unprepared for our nation’s greatest challenges, including the current COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic fallout,” Jolly said. “COVID-19 is a whole of government failure — a tragedy not of missed intelligence, but a tragedy of missed opportunity by an ill-prepared executive and a distracted Congress. We deserve better government and better leaders. I believe SAM can help fill that gap.”