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!