Bill Young Announces Retirement From Congress (Updated)
Rep. C.W. Bill Young, a 22-term Republican, announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in 2014, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times.
Young’s retirement creates an opportunity for Democrats in Florida’s 13th District. President Barack Obama carried the district by 1 point in 2012.
Young is the longest-serving Republican in the House. The 82-year-old told the newspaper that after suffering health problems over the past few years, “it’s my time” to retire.
“I don’t know that I would pick out one thing,” Young told the Tampa Bay Times of his retirement. “It’s a lot of things. My family, my job, my rehabilitation from my back.”
Florida’s 13th District is currently rated a Safe Republican contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
But that could change with Young’s departure. For years, Democrats have eagerly awaited his retirement so they could try to pick up the seat.
Currently, attorney Jessica Ehrlich is the only serious Democratic candidate for that district. This is her second bid for that seat after losing to Young last cycle, 42 percent to 58 percent.
“I would say when a seat like that opens up, I think there’s an increased chance that other candidates are going to look at that seriously,” Florida Democratic pollster Dave Beattie said. He added that Ehrlich earns accolades for taking Young on before it was an open-seat race.
“She wasn’t afraid to take him on before,” he said.
GOP consultant Rick Wilson allowed the seat is now “not so strong that Republicans can go to bed on it,” but he described it as a “very high hill” for Democrats to climb.
Republicans involved in Florida politics quickly named these possible GOP contenders for the seat: former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, state Rep. Dane Eagle, state Rep. Jamie Grant, former Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard, state Sen. Jack Latvala, Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni, Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Williams Seel, state Rep. Dana Young (no relation to the retiring Young), and Young’s son, Bill Young II.
To read which other members of Congress will retire this year, check out Roll Call’s Casualty List.
Updated 1:57 p.m. | A Florida Democratic official tells CQ Roll Call there “will definitely be a primary” on their side for the seat. The source added that any speculation that former Gov. Charlie Crist might run for the seat is “total nonsense.”
Updated 2:40 p.m. | Peter Schorsch of St. Petersblog points out that Eagle is not local talent to the district.