DCCC Gets Top Recruit to Challenge Young in Florida

Posted April 16, 2009 at 9:56am

In a move that state and national Democrats have been hoping for since last cycle, St. Petersburg-area state Sen. Charlie Justice (D) announced Thursday morning that he will challenge Republican Rep. Bill Young in Florida’s 10th district race.

Young, 78, has been the subject of retirement speculation for about a decade, and with his St. Petersburg-based district becoming ever more favorable for Democrats, Democratic insiders have been increasingly eager to give Young a serious challenge.

After serving six years in the state House, Justice was first elected to the Senate in 2006. National Democratic officials were eager to recruit Justice into the 2008 race, but after taking a look at that contest, the state Senator took a pass.

In his announcement, Justice said the country’s economic crisis was a key reason that he decided to challenge Young.

“The impact of the faltering economy can be seen all across our community in the form of short sales, foreclosure signs and shuttered businesses,— Justice said. “Florida families are pulling together at the dinner table and in churches and synagogues because they are determined to succeed. We need more leaders in Congress who share that determination.—

In recent months Democrats have been putting some early pressure on Young.

After targeting the veteran Congressman in radio commercials earlier this year, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a second round of commercials over the Easter recess that focused on Young’s opposition to the Democratic-led economic recovery package.

But rather than making him contemplate retirement, Young’s camp said recently that the early attacks by Democrats only serve to energize the Congressman to run again.

Democrat Al Gore won the 10th district with 51 percent in the contentious 2000 presidential race, but after GOP redistricters sought to shore up the district for the party in 2002, former President George W. Bush won the district with 51 percent in 2004. Last November, President Barack Obama won the district by 4 points.