The Washington Post

Why Rep. Bill Young’s retirement is a gift for Democrats

Thanks to the retirement of Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), a Tampa-area House seat is suddenly in play for Democrats, who need every break they can get to have even an outside chance to compete for the House majority in 2014.

Young's retirement brings the number of open House seats to 15, and his district is the only toss-up among them, according to the Cook Political Report.

22-term Florida Rep. Bill Young announced his retirement on Wednesday. His seat is unlike almost any other in the country. (The Washington Post)

As a general rule, long-serving lawmakers represent highly partisan congressional districts. Of the 20 most senior members of the House, only Young and one other congressman serve swing districts. And Young is the only Republican among them who represents a district that voted for President Obama last year.

Yet Young won his district by 16 points last year. It was his second-smallest margin of victory in over 40 years. His seat is safe, but only if he’s sitting in it. Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam C. Smith calls it “the most competitive seat...anywhere in Florida, if not the southeast.”

It’s hard to argue with that. President Obama beat Mitt Romney in the 13th last November by a 50 to 49 point margin. Obama did slightly better in 2008, winning by four points. George W. Bush beat John Kerry there 51 to 49, and lost to Al Gore by the same margin.

District-level voter registration data is not available, but Pinellas County, which makes up most of the 13th, has almost exactly the same number of registered Democrats as it does Republicans.

As Smith points out, one question to ask is whether former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Republican Independent Democratic mainstay of Florida politics, will enter the race. His parents live in the district, and he lives just outside of it. Crist is thought to be considering another run at the governorship. Incumbent Gov. Rick Scott (R) had a 40 percent approval rating in June.

Without Crist, the early front-runner on the Democratic side has to be Jessica Ehrlich, a St. Petersburg attorney who lost to Young last November and in April announced she would challenge him again in 2014. Ehrlich was out-raised by a 2 to 1 margin last year, but still pulled in over $500,000, thanks in some measure to the endorsement of the national Democratic group Emily’s List.

Among the Republicans who might be interested in the seat: a sitting state senator, a county commissioner, two former mayors, and Young’s son Billy.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
The feminist appeal may not be working for Clinton
In New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders is beating Clinton among women by eight percentage points, according to a new CNN-WMUR survey. This represents a big shift from the results last week in the Iowa caucuses, where Clinton won women by 11 points.
The Post's Dan Balz says ...
This was supposed to be the strongest Republican presidential field in memory, but cracks are showing. At Saturday night's debate, Marco Rubio withered in the face of unyielding attacks from Chris Christie, drawing attention to the biggest question about his candidacy: Is he ready to be president? How much the debate will affect Rubio's standing Tuesday is anybody's guess. But even if he does well, the question about his readiness to serve as president and to go up against Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, will linger.
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.