At least one Florida Republican insider says if David Jolly loses today’s CD 13 special election, it won’t be because he ran a crummy campaign -- as some national Republicans have been saying -- but because the national Republicans themselves blew it.
Some high-level GOP operatives anonymously bashed Jolly in a Politico story Friday. They contended his fundraising was lackluster, his press spokesperson was working out of Tallahassee instead of the district, and, basically, that he was the wrong candidate -- a recently divorced lobbyist with a younger girlfriend -- all without attaching their names.
But Pat Roberts, head of the Florida Association of Broadcasters and a long-time Republican political operative, said conversations with Republicans in Washington recently convinced him they misread the race from the start.
“If anyone’s to blame, it’s Washington Republicans themselves,” who “took the race for granted,” Roberts said.
“They knew (the late Rep.) Bill Young well, and they were convinced his seat was Republican and it didn’t matter who the Democrat was, because he’d been there all these years,” Roberts said. “They didn’t study the voting patterns in the district. I don’t think the light went on until about four weeks ago that this was a serious race.”
Roberts said while Democrats were reactivating the phenomenally successful Obama turnout machine, “Republicans didn’t take this race as seriously as they should have. The day after the primary they should have been up on the air for Jolly the way Democrats were for (Alex) Sink, and they weren’t.”
Jolly’s campaign team, he said, “is as good a team as anybody in Florida, and his ground game was solid.”
As to the Politico story, he said, “If you do this for a living and you screwed up, you want to blame somebody else. They’re the ones that screwed up. They had unlimited funds and they sat on them.”
The press spokesperson, by the way, is Sarah Bascom, who, after a well-regarded career as a political spokeswoman, now runs her own PR consulting shop in Tallahassee and is Jolly’s cousin.
“She may not be on the scene, but she’s on the phone 24/7,” said Roberts.