Will he or won’t he…Only Bill Young knows for sure

As I travel amongst republicans in Pinellas
County one question ultimately comes up when discussing local politics, “Do you think Bill Young is going to retire this term?” I’ve also heard numerous guesses to this question, most are pure conjecture. Here are some of the ones I find the most…interesting….

“I hear he is really sick, so he must be retiring.”

“He’ll never retire, his wife loves the life in Washington too much to allow him to retire, she’ll be wheeling him to the floor to vote if she has too.”

“Not yet, he’s waiting for Billy to get to 25 so he can run for the seat.” Or the alternative, “Not yet, Beverly isn’t ready to run for it yet.”

The only one who knows for sure is the Congressman himself, but I can tell you that from the last time I saw him speak, the answer is a resounding, “Hell no I’m not retiring!”

I was inclined to speculate like everyone else has that he would step down in 08’. There have been persistent rumors about his health and within the last year several key staffers have left his office, things were starting to add up. Even the St. Pete Pravda…I mean Times was openly speculating who would run for the seat.

My opinion changed in April when I saw the congressman at the Central Pinellas Republican Club. He didn’t look ill at all to me and he didn’t talk like a man on the way out. He spoke with fire and passion, especially about the situation at Walter Reed Army Hospital and his family’s involvement in the whole controversy.

I believe he may have been entertaining the thought of retiring, after all he has accomplished just about everything you can in D.C. as a member of Congress, he has nothing more to prove to anyone and he has given 30+ years of his life to serving the citizens of Pinellas County. If he did decide to step down no one would say he hadn’t done enough.

But that was before Walter Reed happened.

I think that once the dems attacked his integrity and honor he put any plans to retire on the back burner. I don’t think there is any way he let’s the SOB’s drive him out of office with trumped up allegations that he let the troops down.

BUT, what if he was to retire, who would be the likely candidates to run for the seat on both the pub and dem sides?

On the republican side I think Karen Seel and Leslie Waters would be my first guesses. Karen Seel (as stated in the Times) is already interested in the seat. Leslie Waters (my disclaimer, I worked for Rep. Waters for 7 years) has also expressed an interest in the seat over the years and the timing couldn’t be better for her.

This would be a great race. Karen has tons of name recognition countywide and is well liked by the rank and file republicans. Leslie doesn’t have the overall name recognition, but makes up for it with relentless grassroots work is like wise well liked in republican circles and both would raise tons of money.

Any others? People often speak about Rick Baker running, but word is he wants state wide office, not congress. Bill Young Jr.? He isn’t eligible till 2010 and he needs to build a career and a track record within the local party first…but one day, he’s going t be a formidable candidate for whatever seat he does run for.

On the dem side….MAYBE Charlie Justice. MAYBE Ken Welch. After that, I don’t see a really high profile dem in the race regardless of whether Charlie and Ken run.

With the recently passed election law Charlie could run in 08’ without the risk of losing his senate seat, so for him he loses nothing by running. IF he wins he has a huge gain, if he loses he still raises him name recognition in the county which will help him at election time in 2010.

Not sure about Ken though, my sources all say he would rather run for mayor of St. Pete when Rick Baker terms out in 09’.

I bet the dem party leadership is going to push Charlie to run in 08’ even if Congressman Young decides to run. They think they can take this seat and they need a strong candidate to do it.

Course, they won’t succeed. That seat is far from a swing seat.

OK, now tell me what YOU think!

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10 Responses to Will he or won’t he…Only Bill Young knows for sure

  1. Beachcomber says:


    Ken Welch doesn’t live in Young’s District, and Ken Welch has stated he isn’t running for mayor.

  2. Bruce Cotton says:


    It’s congress, they don’t have to live in their districts. And stating you aren’t running and actually NOT running are 2 differnt things. Ken’s name consistently comes up when talking about candidates for both Mayor and the Dist.10 seat, so I reported it. IF he did decide to go for the congressional seat he would immediately be a serious contender on the Dem side.

  3. Beachcomber says:

    Calvin Harris would be a stronger candidate. He lives in the heart of District 10, has stronger Republican support, and a longer resume. Welch’s base doesn’t live in District 10 – he draws most of his strength from south St.Pete, Castor’s district. Harris has transcended race.

  4. Bruce Cotton says:

    I agree with most of what you posted, except I think Ken would have as much republican support as Calvin would ( remember Ken used to be a republican. I haven’t heard Calvin’s name uttered even once for the Dist. 10 seat and have never heard him mention it either. I tried to limit my article on those names I’ve heard mentioned to replace Congressman Young.

  5. Actually, the tenth district is a swing seat. The question is, how vulnerable is it while Young still defends the seat.

  6. Jim Johnson says:

    CM – Not very. No really strong Democrat wants to take on Young and lose when they can all wait 2-4-6 years until he retires. He won’t be a Strom Thurmond, so it is inevitable that Young will step down.

  7. Bruce Cotton says:

    Ok, CM WHY is it a swing district?. I see way too many dem politico’s drop the “swing seat” label without telling me why.

    It certainly wasn’t in the last cycle. I think the north county area and the beaches keep that seat republican in 08′ and I don’t think the dems have a “superstar” candidate that can take down Young or is a shoe in if it becomes an open seat.

  8. Beachcomber says:

    10 leans R in the same way many FL House District did before Dems took them in 2006. Its basically a swing seat, a legitimate D can win it, not Samm Simpson.

  9. The Patriot says:

    Just wanted to say what an intelligent discussion this is for a local, political blog. My compliments. Mind if I send a few readers this way? Hey Beachcomber, is that you?

  10. Bruce Cotton says:

    Greetings Patriot, Send as many folks by as you can.


    You still haven’t explained WHY it’s a swing seat. Dems only won 2 seats in the County that were held by republicans. Dist 52 was always has had a dem majority of voters in it, so it can’t be considered a swing seat and Dist 51 only went Dem because of the party tactics used in the election and a wholesale revolt among republican voters (who, for the most part, didn’t show up to vote).

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