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Wednesday, Nov 14, 2018
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Tribune endorsement: David Jolly for U.S. House District 13

Voters should ignore the distortions and name calling in the negative TV advertising for the District 13 congressional race and instead focus on which candidate is better prepared to represent constituents.

Republican David Jolly is a former aide and general counsel to the late C.W. “Bill” Young who has worked in Washington as a lobbyist and consultant, owned businesses and is vice president of a private equity company in Clearwater. He is a Dunedin native familiar with the district and with the inner workings of Washington.

Democrat Alex Sink is the state’s former chief financial officer and once ran the Florida operations for what is now Bank of America. She has served on state government accountability and education commissions and nearly defeated Rick Scott in the 2010 gubernatorial race. She moved from her Thonotosassa home after announcing her candidacy and now lives in the Pinellas County district she hopes to represent.

Both candidates are smart and capable, but we give the nod to Jolly because of his experience working with Young and his more conservative views.

We also worry about a complete loss of legislative balance if enough Democrats are elected in this fall’s midterm election to have a majority in the House, leaving a single party to control the Senate, the House and the White House. District 13 is a relatively rare “swing” district, where voters are evenly divided.

And although it is not an overriding factor, it is not insignificant that Jolly was born in the district and chose to live there after returning from Washington years ago.

Sink is no flaming liberal. The former banker tends to be fiscally conservative and moderate on social issues. But as a congressional Democrat, she would be under enormous pressure to advance the national party’s progressive agenda.

In contrast, Jolly says he will work to overturn the burdensome Affordable Care Act. He will push for a long-term solution to the flood insurance fiasco, one that brings relief to homeowners while eliminating the federal program’s exorbitant debt. The insights he gleaned from his years working closely with Young will help to protect and grow the Tampa Bay area’s defense industry.

Jolly, on some issues, unfortunately, has not displayed Young’s fabled independence. He is adamantly opposed to the Senate’s immigration plan and its path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. He thinks there needs to be an enforcement process in place that determines whether an illegal immigrant deserves citizenship, a plan that seems unrealistic. He says he will vote against the Greenlight Pinellas transportation proposal because of the sales tax increase, but would work to secure federal support if voters approve the plan in November. Young was the kind of conservative who understood the importance of investing in a better future, and we take Jolly at his word that he would do the same.

Attempts to portray his lobbying work as sinister strike us as disingenuous. He represented a broad range of clients, one of them a Pinellas contractor that created jobs by developing a technology to better detect roadside bombs.

Sink supports the Affordable Care Act but acknowledges it needs to be fixed. She supports the Senate’s immigration plan and its 13-year path to citizenship. Like Jolly, she recognizes the financial peril homeowners face because of the flawed flood insurance reforms now in place, and she promises to push for new flood insurance legislation.

A third candidate on the ballot, Libertarian Lucas Overby, is a commercial diver who wants to cut federal spending and give individuals more freedom from the government.

Sink is campaigning as a consensus builder who can fight the gridlock in Washington. We respect her ability, but she would be under the direction of Nancy Pelosi, who is far to the left of District 13’s constituents. Jolly is better positioned to build on Young’s legacy. In the March 11 special election for the District 13 U.S. House seat, The Tampa Tribune recommends David Jolly.

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