"Tip O'Neill left an indelible legacy on the country with one simple message - all politics is local," he said. "He was right. This is a local race. This is a Pinellas County race. This race is about making sure somebody from Pinellas County is elected to represent Pinellas County in Washington D.C."
Some might consider that message a bit rich from a man who has been called out by some members from his own party as being a "D.C. lobbyist," but nevertheless that appears to be the driving narrative that the 41-year-old Jolly will emphasize over the next two months in what promises to be an intense battle in one of the most evenly divided congressional districts in the nation.
Jolly defeated state Representative Kathleen Peters and retired Marines brigadier general Mark Bircher on Tuesday night, taking nearly 45 percent of the vote to Peters 31 percent and Bircher's 24 percent.
. He now takes on Alex Sink, the former state CFO and unsuccessful Democratic nominee for governor in 2010.
Other than a nod to doing something substantial on flood insurance, the only real policy measure that Jolly referred to in his speech was about Obamacare, which he said he'd work to repeal if he makes it to Washington. "I want to make one point exceedingly clear, Mr President, with all due respect. Obamacare has hurt people in Pinellas County."
He then went on to recount examples of Pinellas residence he's met on the campaign trail who have been adversely affected by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and blasted a recent Sink quote in the Washington Post where she said that “Hardly anybody is walking up to me saying Obamacare is the thing that they care the most about."
"Well, she is not walking around Pinellas County," Jolly said getting in a two-fer, attacking her stance on the unpopular new law (at least among Republicans and independents) and her carpetbagging status as a recent (and we mean recent) move to the district to run in the race.
Beginning in campaign appearances and again on Tuesday night, Jolly is pushing his underdog status, emphasizing that he'll undoubtedly be outspent by the Democratic Party establishment, who want to "steal" the election away from local residents by importing a candidate with high name recognition.
Calling it a "certain Beltway arrogance, a quiet audacity of the Washington establishment," Jolly will no doubt work hard on trying to appeal not just to base voters but also adding independents to his cause by pushing the concept that Sink is an outsider, a stranger to the community.
For her part Sink played the bipartisan card herself on Election Night, issuing out a brief statement where she said that her campaign is focused primarily on "Bringing Republicans and Democrats together to focus on challenges that matter most to Pinellas."
But other members of her party and aligned groups weren't nearly so anodyne in their remarks. In fact, the Florida Democratic Party went so far as to introducing a new website using the URL of JollyforCongress to blast the GOP nominee, which includes Republican-on Republican comments such as the above listed referrals to him being a "Washington insider."
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York issued out a statement where he was able to somehow fit in the Koch Brothers, saying, “There’s no doubt that over the next eight weeks, national Republicans and shadowy groups funded by the Koch Brothers will pour millions of dollars into this race to spread the same debunked lies that Rick Scott used against Alex in 2010, but the independent-minded voters in Pinellas will see through their politics-as-usual.”
The CD13 seat was occupied by C.W. "Bill Young" for 43 years, from 1970 until his passing last October at the age of 82. Jolly calls himself a "Bill Young Republican," and it will be fascinating to see if the voters in Pinellas County want to continue with a newer, fresher version of their longtime representative (without the senior years of experience that allowed Young to bring home the bacon for decades) vs. a center-left candidate who may be more in touch with the voters - if she can truly convince them that she's one of their own.