Sunday, October 28, 2007

Justice for the Tenth District?

What does it mean for the Tampa Bay area when State Senator Charlie Justice says that he is "pretty darn close" to being 100% committed to running for the 10th Congressional District - if Rep. Bill Young retires?

In the first place, it means "tough luck" to a lot of Democrats, if he's serious.

If you read the comments section here, you'll hear some pretty harsh words about Justice - most of which are completely unfair. The truth is, Justice has been a very active Senator and has driven a lot of issues, especially considering that he is in the minority party.

In short, Justice is among the strongest Democratic candidate for the seat, having already shown he can win 50-50 districts in his underdog victory over Rep. Kim Berfield.

Unfortunately, by stating his interest, he has also pressured other Democrats not to run.

Should Bill Young retire, you would have say that the seat leans Democrat, even if only marignally. Though the 10th went for Bush in 2004, it went for Gore in 2000 and the current dynamics suggest it will go for Democrat (particularly Clinton) by a bigger margin than it went for either Bush or Gore. Anyone who argues differently, frankly, has either not been following the numbers or is engaging in some poorly thought out partisan spin.

The best way to encourage Young to retire? Find a top quality candidate run against him. Young's fundraising in the last quarter was anemic and he took a beating over his failure to effectively respond to the poor conditions at Walter Reed Hospital, and he clearly doesn't have much passion for the job anymore. If Young knew he would face a strong candidate like Justice - or Rep. Rick Kriseman, Karl Nurse, Sue Brody or any of the other names that have been bandied about - then the odds go up that he retires.

Until Justice forms a committee to start accepting contribution for federal office, the DCCC has to focus on finding a candidate who will regardless of whether Young is running for re-election or not. That candidate may well be Sen. Justice - but until he makes his intentions known, he is only pressuring others from getting into the race, rather than pressuring Young by letting the Congressman know that he will have a real race on his hands and be forced to actively defend his record to the voters.


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