Democrats are running a former Republican and Marine Corps colonel as an independent against Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.).

Ed Jany, a former member of the Army Special Forces who serves as a volunteer police officer with the Tampa police department, announced Friday he's jumping in the race.

“My life has always been about service, honor and bringing people together to get results, but these values are totally missing from Washington, and Pinellas families are paying the price,” said Jany in a release announcing his run.

After suffering a bruising special election loss in the district earlier this year, Democrats made Jolly a top target and have repeatedly insisted they’d find a strong recruit for the race, even after their last nominee and preferred contender, Alex Sink, opted out.

They believe Jany’s that candidate, touting in particular his military background and his party switch as assets against Jolly, whom they plan to again hammer for his lobbying background and paint as an out-of-touch creature of Washington.

But Jany only joined the Democratic Party last October, and a law requiring candidates to be registered with the party they’re running under 365 days prior to qualifying means he’ll have to run as a "no party affiliation" candidate.

“When the Republican Congress lost touch with the values of Main Street America by focusing on divisive issues like the healthcare choices of my daughters and wife instead of cutting wasteful spending or helping businesses create jobs, I knew that that the party had left me and so many others behind. I’ve never given up until a mission was done, and I’ll fight everyday until Washington starts putting Pinellas seniors, veterans and middle class families first," Jany said in defending his party switch. 


The Democratic Congressional Campaign committee on Friday trumpeted his announcement.

“An American hero, Colonel Jany’s service, independence and proven ability to bring people together to get results is exactly what’s missing from the broken politics of Washington,” said DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) in a statement.

“Democrats are proud to support Colonel Jany and confident he will run an aggressive, successful campaign. Congressman David Jolly’s reckless Republican Congress is repelling Americans like Colonel Ed Jany who are fed up with the Republican agenda that hurts women, seniors and the middle class instead of focusing on solving challenges that matter most to Pinellas residents.”

But Republicans derided his candidacy as an "embarrassing" recruiting fail after Sink and 2012 nominee Jessica Ehrlich both passed. 

"This is a humongous recruitment fail for Nancy Pelosi and the DCCC. After losing all of their top recruits thanks to President Obama's toxic agenda, they are now stuck with a candidate who couldn't even run as a Democrat because he didn't register in time. This is truly embarrassing for Washington Democrats," said National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Katie Prill.

Still, he has the full backing of the DCCC and the Florida Democratic Party.

Democrats have long targeted the swing district and saw their best shot in decades open up when Rep. Bill Young (R) passed last year, and their loss in the special was seen as an ominous sign for the party's chances this fall. They've insisted, however, with a regular election turnout, they can pick up the seat in November.