Young a no-show at Tiger Bay debate listen10/12/10 Kate Bradshaw
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This election year, the Republican insurgent versus Democratic incumbent seems to be the dominant narrative in many races. But one Congressional district is seeing that get turned on its head. Democratic State Senator Charlie Justice hopes to unseat ten-term US Representative C.W. Bill Young. Young is the Republican in Florida’s 10th Congressional District, which encompasses most of Pinellas County, save for a chunk in the South. Sure, the incumbent has a great deal of name recognition, but Justice has something else going for him.
St. Petersburg real estate agent Ben Friedlander disclosed that he’s also a friend of Senator Justice in his introduction today at Suncoast Tiger Bay Club meeting. The meeting was supposed to be a debate between Justice and Young. But Young didn’t show, citing recovery from back surgery.
Justice has served in the state legislature, first as a Representative, then as a Senator, for a decade. Citing his own record, he seized on Young’s being a no-show as a way to distinguish himself.
Of course, it’s not Justice’s name you see on public buildings throughout the county. Young has been a US member of Congress for 40 years, and has made his mark on Pinellas County. He’s now eighty years old. One Tiger Bay Club member wants to know how Justice intends to compete with someone who has numerous science labs and government buildings named after him.
Some say that name recognition is due in part to Young’s use of earmarks to steer federal money toward Pinellas County. Justice says there’s a fine line between getting funding for projects in one’s home district and securing “pork” for campaign donor projects.
While many at today’s meeting laugh when Justice and his supporters take digs at Young, a few don’t. One of these is South Pasadena Mayor Kathleen Peters. She says both Young and Justice have done a lot for Pinellas County at the federal and state levels, respectively.
But Peters, a Republican, says she’s sticking with her party on this one.
Robert Safransky is a registered Democrat who says he’s leaning toward the Republican ticket this time around because he thinks Democrats are being a bit frivolous in their spending habits.
This isn’t the first time Justice is in a contest against the advice of fellow Democrats. In 2006 his Republican opponent reportedly outspent him five to one and still lost. Young is still considered the underdog in this race, but in a year like this, it could be anyone’s game. Today Justice also offered his thoughts on the US Senate Race. Justice may be from Crist’s home town, but he says he’s supported Meek from the start.
He says many Democratic voters are calculating how to best prevent a victory for Republican Marco Rubio.
Charlie Justice says regardless of what the numbers say, anything can happen in this unusual election cycle, which has a full three weeks left to go.