“He’s smarter than me.”
It is rare to hear a political candidate speak these words about an opponent, especially in the midst of a heated race like the Congressional District 13 special election to fill the late Republican Congressman C.W. Bill Young’s seat. Yet GOP candidate David Jolly, who served as an aide to Young, uttered that quote at a Candidate’s Forum held at St. Petersburg Community Church on Tuesday.
“He’s smarter than me,” Jolly said, as part of a remark about Libertarian Lucas Overby’s response to a moderator’s question.
That Jolly attended the event is perhaps an indication that his campaign team is concerned about the growing momentum the 27-year-old Overby has received since Bay News 9 viewers overwhelmingly selected the Libertarian as the winner of a debate aired on that network on Feb. 3.
Since then, an escalating number of Pinellas County residents have expressed support for Overby, voicing their displeasure over the bickering between Jolly and Democrat Alex Sink, both of whom have deep ties to special interest groups.
The campaigns of Jolly and Sink are backed by substantial financial support while Overby is running a grassroots effort. Overby became the first Libertarian to be included in a nationally televised debate when he took the stage with Jolly and Sink on Feb. 3. The debate was also shown on C-SPAN3.
In the latter stages of Tuesday night’s event, following a response from Jolly that included more vitriol towards Sink, Overby reiterated that his campaign is about sharing ideas and voicing viewpoints instead of launching attacks.
Political analysts say that Overby’s most daunting challenge is money.
“But he may benefit from the backlash against the two major parties and there are about 28 percent of the people in the district that do not identify as Republicans or Democrats,” USF Professor of Political Science Dr. Susan MacManus recently told 10 News in Tampa.
Sink did not attend the forum. The election is slated for March 11.