Congressman Bill Young, who was first elected to the Florida Senate in 1960 and won a seat in Congress in 1970, shows no signs of going away as reports came out early this week that he intends to run for a 23rd term in 2014.
Young is assembling his war chest earlier this election cycle than has been his normal procedure. He brought in more than $58,000, including more than $43,000 from PACs, in the first quarter of 2013 and had more than $208,500 at the end of March.
But the Democrats have also started quickly. They are already running robo-calls in the Tampa Bay area, blasting Young for opposing President Barack Obamas federal health-care law.
The Democrats have a candidate already in the race as well -- one that Young knows very well. Despite losing to the Republican in 2012, attorney Jessica Ehrlich is hoping for a rematch in 2014. Arguing that she is better known this time out and has more time to connect with voters, Dems say Ehrlich has an impressive background, including serving as an aide to congressmen from both parties, even Florida Republican Clay Shaw.
But Democrats had high hopes for Ehrlich in 2012 and she did not deliver. Despite Obama and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson winning Florida and helping Democrats across the state, Young carried 57 percent of the vote while Ehrlich carried only 42 percent. Granted, its better than Democrats had done against Young since 1992, but the Republican was also running in a district that had been changed due to redistricting.
While Democrats are targeting him again, Young has a history of dashing their hopes. For example, in 2010, they thought they had recruited a top tier candidate in Charlie Justice, who had a decade of experience winning elections to sit in both chambers of the Florida Legislature. Young utterly destroyed him at the polls, crushing the Democrat in a 32 percent landslide.
Youngs triumph over Justice is even more impressive when one looks at the Democrats political history, including how he bounced back in 2012 when he defeated incumbent Nancy Bostock to win a seat on the Pinellas County Commission. Despite his bad loss to Young, Justice is clearly no political lightweight.
Even with Youngs age -- hell turn 84 a month after the 2014 elections -- he starts out a heavy favorite as he gears up to run for his 23rd term. With more than 50 years of electoral success, including some impressive victories in recent years, Young should not be underestimated, especially as he starts his re-election efforts earlier than usual.