Webb Out; Jolly Crashes

Oct. 23, 2015 — Democratic presidential candidate Jim Webb, the former US senator (Virginia) who spent most of last week’s debate time complaining that he wasn’t getting enough attention, has dropped his bid for the party nomination. He leaves the door open to enter the general election campaign as an Independent.

The move does little to affect the race. The three most irrelevant presidential participants in this 2016 contest are the trio of Democratic minor candidates: Webb, former governor and senator, Lincoln Chafee (D-RI), and ex-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. None of them have moved the political needle one iota since joining the race months ago.

Webb running as an Independent is also likely to have little impact. Qualifying for the ballot in all 50 states as an Independent presidential candidate is not an easy task. Therefore, there is no guarantee that the former Democratic presidential candidate will be able to raise the money and develop a national organization strong enough even to obtain ballot position.

Should he qualify, he is unlikely to become a major factor, and not the type of Independent candidate that will take a large share of the vote away from a particular candidate. Because he has straddled the ideological spectrum, first as a Republican US Navy Secretary in the Reagan Administration, and then all the way to becoming a Democratic senator, it is plausible that Webb’s few general election votes could potentially be evenly split between the two major party nominees.

If the Webb withdrawal has any effect upon the Democratic nomination campaign, it is likely to help Hillary Clinton. With Vice President Joe Biden, despite Tuesday’s false alarm, choosing not to enter the race, it leaves Clinton in virtually head-to-head competition with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT). Such a set-up will inevitably result in a Clinton win.

FL-13

Former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) announced Tuesday that he will run for the now open Florida 13th US House District, anticipating that the state Supreme Court will ratify the new court-drawn congressional map.

When the Florida Supreme Court struck down portions of the state’s enacted plan, they began with District 13 demanding that the city of St. Petersburg, Crist’s hometown, be added to the Pinellas County CD instead of crossing Tampa Bay as part of CD 14 in the standing 2011 map. The Tampa Bay changes turn FL-13 from a marginal Republican district into a discernible Democratic seat.

As a result of the redistricting war, incumbent Rep. David Jolly (R-Pinellas County) understanding that he would have a very difficult time winning re-election within the new boundaries, jumped into the open US Senate race thus leaving FL-13 open. The end result produces an inviting opportunity for a Crist political comeback.

The former governor held an official announcement event yesterday, to which Rep. Jolly, now a Senate candidate, came uninvited in order to address reporters. He was there specifically to trash Crist because he says “he (Jolly) cares deeply” about who will represent him and the entire Pinellas County region in Congress.

“A person who is in this out of political convenience, not political conviction, a huckster, and a fraud who will say absolutely anything he wants, just to get elected,” is how Jolly described Crist in an interview, saying this is what motivated him to come to the announcement and publicly oppose the former governor’s candidacy.

Of course, Jolly is reaping the benefits of a secondary motive, as well. Knowing that the conservative base is unalterably opposed to Crist for ditching his party and supposed ideology when it suited his personal political agenda, Jolly will likely score points with the base Republican turnout voter for taking on Crist.

The very early Senate polling actually has Jolly slightly ahead of his GOP rivals, but no one even touches 20 percent support. The Tampa Bay congressman is falling behind on money, so rather daring earned media events such as these could help attract greater attention in order to bolster his candidacy for a difficult statewide primary campaign.

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