If Republican Senate candidate David Jolly is worried about wealthy Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff entering the race, he sure isn't letting on.
Beruff, a homebuilder in Manatee County who has never run for office before, jumped into the Senate race Thursday morning by launching a website and confirming he will declare his candidacy Monday in Miami.
"He might think he is a big deal in the governor's circles, but nobody on I-4 has ever heard of him," Jolly said in a telephone interview Thursday with the Times/Herald.
Jolly's comments are in reference to Beruff building a campaign team that includes people who worked on Gov. Rick Scott's campaigns for governor and Scott having picked Beruff to be chairman of a commission he organized to look at health care and hospital funding in Florida.
Jolly, a Pinellas County Republican who has been in Congress since 2014, said he welcomes Beruff to the contest because it gives voters another choice. Although Beruff is from Manatee County, Jolly said he doesn't think he'll take much support from him in the Tampa Bay region. He said before Beruff started talking about getting into the race, he had never heard of him.
"I doesn't change a thing for me," Jolly said of Beruff getting into the race.
Beruff and Jolly are now part of a Republican primary campaign that also includes Rep. Ron DeSantis, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and businessman Todd Wilcox.