Young’s Retirement Gives Dems a Fla. Pickup Opportunity

Representative Charles William 'Bill' Young of Florida speaks to reporters after the House Intelligence Committee conducted a hearing on Benghazi with testimony by former US General David Petreaus, November 16, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Ex-CIA chief David Petraeus began his testimony before lawmakers Friday about the September 11 assault on the US mission in Benghazi, his first appearance since resigning suddenly a week ago. Packs of reporters and camera crews were on hand at the US Capitol hoping to catch Petraeus entering the highly-anticipated, closed-door hearing of the House Intelligence Committee but they were left disappointed.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms
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Sarah Mimms
Oct. 9, 2013, 9:47 a.m.

Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., told the Tampa Bay Times on Wed­nes­day that he will re­tire in 2014, put­ting his Gulf Coast seat in play for the first time since he was elec­ted in 1970.

Young, 82, has long been on Wash­ing­ton’s re­tire­ment watch list, and Wed­nes­day’s an­nounce­ment could open the door for a large field of Re­pub­lic­an chal­lengers giv­en their first shot at the seat in dec­ades. Ac­cord­ing to the Times and a na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an source, a few of the pos­sib­il­it­ies in­clude:

  • Bill Young II: Young’s son, who is cur­rently look­ing at run­ning for the state le­gis­lature, but could change his mind to run for his fath­er’s seat.
  • Former St. Peters­burg May­or Rick Baker: Baker has been may­or of the city that lies just south of the dis­trict since 2001 and won reelec­tion over­whelm­ingly in 2005.
  • State Sen. Jack Latvala: Latvala rep­res­ents the north­ern sub­urbs of St. Peters­burg, at the south­ern­most tip of the dis­trict.
  • Former Clear­wa­ter May­or Frank Hi­b­bard: Hi­b­bard has ties to the busi­ness com­munity thanks to his work as a seni­or vice pres­id­ent for Mor­gan Stan­ley.
  • State Rep. Dana Young (no re­la­tion): Young’s fam­ily has a long his­tory in Flor­ida polit­ics. Her grand­fath­er and uncle both served in the state le­gis­lature, and her fath­er was an as­sist­ant sec­ret­ary at the state’s De­part­ment of En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion.
  • Pinel­las County com­mis­sion­ers Kar­en Seel and John Mor­roni: Pinel­las County cov­ers the en­tire dis­trict. Mor­roni has suffered from non-Hodgkins lymph­oma but said earli­er this year that his health is im­prov­ing to the point that he had been con­sid­er­ing run­ning for reelec­tion next year.

Demo­crats have already re­cruited their 2012 nom­in­ee, at­tor­ney Jes­sica Ehr­lich, who lost to Young last year by 15 points. With Young off the bal­lot, the dis­trict be­comes much more com­pet­it­ive, giv­ing Ehr­lich a sol­id shot at claim­ing the seat this time around. Pres­id­ent Obama ac­tu­ally won the dis­trict last year by a 1.5-point mar­gin.

But Demo­crats have per­formed well in the dis­trict in off-year elec­tions as well. A na­tion­al Demo­crat­ic source poin­ted to former CFO Alex Sink’s win there in her 2010 gubernat­ori­al race, not­ing that she won the dis­trict with 51 per­cent of the vote, des­pite los­ing statewide.

The dis­trict is also part of former Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Charlie Crist’s home base. Crist is widely ex­pec­ted to run as a Demo­crat for gov­ernor next year, and with his name at the top of the bal­lot, Demo­crats could see a boost in turnout.

Those num­bers could have oth­er Demo­crats con­sid­er­ing get­ting in­to the race. Ehr­lich already has the back­ing of EMILY’s List and has been touted by the Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee as a top re­cruit. But Ehr­lich raised just $154,000 dur­ing the second quarter of this year; her third-quarter re­port is due by Oct. 15. With Young out of the race, a Demo­crat with a stronger fun­drais­ing base could jump in­to the con­test.

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