Democrats on Friday rallied around the candidacy of retired Col. Ed Jany (D), who filed an 11th hour challenge against Rep. David Jolly (R) in a swing Florida district where Republicans scored a big special election win earlier this year. While Jany is a Democrat, he is officially running as an "NPA," or no party affiliation candidate because of when he joined the Democratic Party.

"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," Jany said in a statement. "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."

Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in a closely watched March special election in the Tampa-area swing district. Sink recently announced that she would not run again, raising questions about who Democrats would put up against Jolly in the fall.

Because Jany has been a Democrat for less than a year, he must run as an NPA candidate under Florida law. Jany said "the last straw" in his tenure as a Republican was last year's government shutdown.

In a conference call with reporters, Jany said there are both "good" and bad" aspects of the federal health-care law, but "you can't throw the baby out with the bathwater. The law has already been passed at this point."

Both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the state Democratic Party issued statements supporting Jany, who has never run for office before. He spent more than three decades in the Army and Marine Corps and currently serves as a volunteer police officer. Jany immigrated with his family to the United States from Brazil when he was a child.

Republicans said they were not impressed by Jany's candidacy.

"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," said National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Katie Prill.