A Conversation with
Congressman (R-FL 13, 2014-2017)
Analyst, CNN & MSNBC
Congressman (D-FL 18, 2013-2017)
Mark Gearan (Moderator)
Director, Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School
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Congressman David Jolly served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2014 – 2017, representing Florida’s 13th Congressional District, including the communities of St. Petersburg, Clearwater and the surrounding beaches. A student of the institution, Jolly has held virtually every position in the House of Representatives, from intern to Member of Congress, and has worked outside the Congress as an attorney and political consultant.
Jolly considers himself a modern-day Bull Moose Republican, faithful to conservative doctrine on matters of the federal budget, taxes, and regulation, but unafraid of fighting for sweeping solutions on equality, the environment, campaign finance reform, immigration, and federal firearm measures.
Jolly was first elected in a special election in 2014, a Republican winning a district President Obama had won twice. It was his first run for elected office and became one of the most expensive Congressional races in U.S. history at the time. As Jolly recalls, it made him a fierce campaign finance reform advocate and ultimately led to his introduction of The Stop Act, legislation to prohibit any Member of Congress from soliciting a campaign donation. Jolly’s crusade, and The Stop Act, were featured on CBS’ 60 Minutes.
In Congress, Jolly fought alongside Republicans promoting balanced budgets, tax reform, veterans healthcare freedom, and school choice, always looking to build consensus with colleagues across the aisle. Jolly also took traditional Republican positions confronting issues like the Affordable Healthcare Act’s individual mandate, President Obama’s use of Executive Orders, and the President’s regulations on industries ranging from financial services to labor to healthcare.
But Jolly garnered most attention for his willingness to break from his party. Jolly was an early GOP advocate of marriage equality and LGBTQ protections, pushed his party to accept the science of climate change, is a strong proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, and following the tragic shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando led a bipartisan effort to restrict terror suspects from purchasing firearms.
Jolly spilled the secrets of both parties on the fundraising requirements placed on Members of Congress, once unveiled a jar of Florida mosquitos on the House floor to push for additional federal funding to combat Zika, accused Apple Inc. of having blood on their hands for not cooperating with the FBI in its investigation of a domestic terror event, and in December 2015 took to the House floor to call on Donald Trump to drop out of the Presidential race following the candidates proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
Today, Jolly can often be seen as an analyst on CNN and MSNBC, including regular dayside appearances and primetime on The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, and All In with Chris Hayes. Jolly also recently appeared on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, and regularly on PoliticKing with Larry King.
Jolly received his Bachelor of Arts from Emory University in 1994, and his Juris Doctor Cum Laude from George Mason University in 2001. The son of a minister, Jolly is a fifth-generation Floridian and resides today with his wife Laura in Belleair Bluffs, Florida.
Congressman Patrick Murphy represented Florida’s 18th district, covering the Treasure Coast and northern Palm Beach County, from 2013 until 2017.
A CPA and businessman who grew frustrated with the dysfunction in Washington, Murphy took on and defeated Tea Party firebrand Allen West in 2012 in one of the closest and most expensive U.S. House races in history. Two years later, he was re-elected by a 20-point margin.
Murphy’s key accomplishments in office include helping secure nearly $2 billion in Everglades restoration funding, introducing the SAVE Act to eliminate billions in wasteful government spending, and passing legislation to reform the national flood insurance market. One of the first millennials elected to Congress, Murphy formed the bipartisan United Solutions Caucus, bringing members of both parties together to explore ways to get the nation’s fiscal house in order. He was named 2014’s Champion of the Everglades by Audubon Florida for his strong environmental advocacy.
In the House, Murphy served on the Financial Services Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence, where he authored several key national security provisions included in the 2017 intel authorization. Known as a problem-solver able to work across the aisle, Murphy had one of the most independent voting records among all members during his two terms.
Murphy, 34, resides in Jupiter in Palm Beach County.
Mark Gearan became the 19th director of the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government on March 1, 2018. A leading voice at the intersection of education and public service, Mark has held numerous leadership roles in American politics, government, and education.
From 1999-2017, Mark served as the President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS), becoming the longest-serving president in HWS history. During his tenure, Mark oversaw an era of unprecedented growth that included doubling the Colleges’ endowment, a capital plan which raised $205 million to support facilities, endowment and annual giving, establishing 168 new endowed scholarships, and the completion of 80 significant capital projects. Following his time at HWS, Mark held an appointment as President-in-residence at HGSE for the 2017-2018 academic year.
In September 1995, President Bill Clinton appointed Mark as the 14th Director of the Peace Corps, after serving in senior positions in the Clinton White House. While Director, Mark oversaw the expansion of the Peace Corps program into South Africa, India, and Haiti as well as the establishment of the Crisis Corps, which would send former Peace Corps volunteers into crisis areas for six months or less to help during emergencies.
President Clinton said of Gearan: “One of the best personnel decisions I have made as President was to appoint Mark Gearan as the Director of the Peace Corps. I believe he has been one of the most successful Directors since President Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961. He has rejuvenated the Peace Corps, and demonstrated a deep commitment to its legacy of service and the women and men who serve as Peace Corps volunteers. He can be proud that the Peace Corps will soon have more volunteers serving overseas than at any time in a generation."
Mark has served in a variety of roles in American politics and government including White House Communications Director, White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Vice Presidential Campaign Manager for Clinton/Gore ’92, Executive Director of the Democratic Governor’s Association, Headquarters Press Secretary for Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis’s 1988 presidential campaign, Chief of Staff for U.S. Representative Berkley Bedell of Iowa, and a reporter for the Fitchburg, Massachusetts Sentinel and Enterprise.
Mark’s first taste of politics came as an IOP intern in the Washington, DC office of Massachusetts’s Congressman Robert Drinan, S.J.
He is the Vice Chair for National and Public Service of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service; and is a past chair of the Board of Directors of both National Campus Compact and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Mark also sits on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Standing Committee for Public Service.
Born in Gardner, Massachusetts, Mark attended Gardner High School. He earned an A.B. in government cum laude at Harvard University in 1978 and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1991. He is the recipient of 13 honorary degrees. Mark is married to Mary Herlihy Gearan and they have two daughters, Madeleine, Harvard ‘15 and Kathleen, HWS ’21.
Follow Mark on Twitter at @MarkDGearan