Bill Young Will Not Seek Re-election, Ends Long Career in Florida Politics
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The dean of congressional Republicans, U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., announced Wednesday he will not seek re-election in 2014.
Young, 82, made the announcement in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. The longtime congressman, who ranks fourth in seniority in the House, told the Times there were a number of factors in his decision.
First elected to Congress in 1970, Young has been on the Florida political stage since 1960 when he was elected to the Florida Senate. During the 1960s he moved up the ranks to serve as Senate minority leader when Republicans were scarce in Tallahassee. before winning a seat in Congress. In his last year in the Florida Senate, Young was injured in a plane accident.
In his time in Congress, he moved up the Republican ranks due to seniority and he eventually chaired a major committee. From 1999 until 2005, he chaired the House Appropriations Committee. He remains the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Defense.
Young showed a knack for doing well in elections but, in 2012, Democrat Jessica Ehrlich held him under 60 percent for the first time since 1992. Ehrlich has already committed to run again in 2014 and Democrats are expected to make the seat a major target now that Young is bowing out.
In recent days, Young showed some vulnerability over the continuing federal shutdown. He broke with Republicans in the House and called to end the federal government shutdown. Last Thursday he said he would back all bills funding the federal government.
“The time for politics is over; let’s get on to legislating and the hard work of tackling our $17 trillion national debt and solving important national issues like the current flood insurance crisis,” he said. “All sides need to sit down and work these problems out together.”
Nevertheless, a poll released last weekend from Democrat-affiliated Public Policy Polling (PPP), commissioned by the liberal group Move On, found Young in trouble with voters over the shutdown, with 59 percent of voters saying his role in it made them less likely to vote for him. When matched against a generic Democrat, Young trailed with 43 percent while the Democrat led with 48 percent. Still, Young has survived major challenges before. Democrats had high hopes when then-state Sen. Charlie Justice took him on in 2010. Young took 66 percent of the vote, crushing Justice in the general election.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.