Mitch Perry Report 2.25.14: Fatal incident in David Jolly's past comes to light



Two weeks before voters in Pinellas County's 13th Congressional race go to the polls, the world has learned of an incident that happened nearly 25 years ago involving GOP candidate David Jolly.

As reported by Preston Rudie with WTSP-Channel 10 last night, Jolly, when he was 16 years old, hit and killed a man named Blair Warren Ropes while driving on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in Tampa. Ropes had been walking on the right side of the road after his motorcycle broke down and was hit by Jolly. Police considered the incident an accident, and Jolly was not charged with a crime.

With public records so accessible, the question some might have today is, how could this not be known until now? Well, as Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports today, the Times actually reported on Jolly's accident when it occurred in 1989, but his name was spelled "Jolley" in the Pasco Times report.

Smith also reports that like Rudie, he had been tipped off about the incident, and called the Jolly camp for comment. He was told that David Jolly did not want to speak about it, and so Smith awaited the Florida Highway Patrol report before publishing the story.

David Jolly is certainly not the first person to have accidentally killed a person while driving. You may or may not recall that former First Lady Laura Bush was involved in a similar incident when she was 17, which she wrote about in her 2010 memoir.

Will the story affect the campaign? Impossible to say. This isn't like hearing about George W. Bush getting a DUI, a story that broke five days before the 2000 presidential election. Jolly was never charged with a crime, and that must not be forgotten.

In other news...Did you hear about those "Moral Monday" protests that liberal activists started up in North Carolina last year, angry that their state legislator and governor had rejected Medicaid expansion and were passing election laws that made it harder to vote? Hmm, sounds like another Southern state we know. So it wasn't a surprise to learn that the NAACP and other groups will be holding at least one "Moral Monday" in Florida next week, though the jury's out whether they can sustain the activism beyond that.

In interviews, Democratic CD13 candidate Alex Sink has talked some trash about David Jolly's lobbying. Now she's come out with a set of principles that take a direct shot at Jolly's livelihood. Not surprisingly, Republicans are fighting back, mentioning how much campaign money Sink has taken in from those damn lobbyists.

And we were at the Equality Florida Tampa fundraiser Saturday night held at the epic Vault building in the heart of downtown. That's where EQFL CEO Nadine Smith warned the hundreds in attendance that despite the wave of great news for the LGBT community over the past year, danger lurks, especially in places like Arizona.

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