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Jeremy Bailie wants to bring intense focus to Florida Legislature

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Jeremy Bailie, one of three Republicans who filed to run for the Pinellas County-based House District 69 seat being vacated by Kathleen Peters, says in his job as an attorney, he’s driven to help small businesses.

He wants to bring that same intense focus to Tallahassee.

“I’m running because I feel very passionately about not just the little guy, but the small businesses that really make up our community that employ hundreds of thousands of people all over the state,” the 26-year-old barrister told FloridaPolitics.com Tuesday morning. “I want to be a part of the solutions in helping them achieve the same successes that my family and grandparents sought when they came to the states, and also be able to keep that opportunity alive for others.”

Bailie paternal grandparents emigrated from Northern Ireland to the U.S. to find a better life. An attorney with the St. Petersburg based law firm of Abbey, Adams, Byelick & Mueller, Bailie says he’s proud of the fact that along with representing large international companies, he’s also represented small, local firms on employment law, worker’s compensation and bargaining issues.

“I get to see how what happens in Tallahassee affects small businesses,” he remarks.

Bailie attended Northland International University, an evangelical Christian school in Dunbar, Wisconsin, before returning to his native Florida to get his law degree at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, where he currently resides.

He said he was surprised when Peters announced earlier this year that she would not run for reelection. In her statement announcing her decision to instead run for the Pinellas County Commission, the Pasadena Republican lambasted Tallahassee lawmakers for what she said was “an all-out assault on local government and home rule,” referring to a number of bills that legislators proposed that would take power away from local government in cities and counties in Florida.

When asked if he shared her sentiments, Bailie said on some issues yes, on others, not so much.

“There’s certainly a place in our legal framework in Florida, a place for city governments to have the people closest to the citizens — the voters — to have an opportunity to do with what they deal with on a day-to-day basis,” he said, before quickly pivoting to areas where he embraces uniformity, like within the criminal justice system.

“You can’t have somebody in Pensacola getting one sentence, and somebody in Ocala or Miami, (getting) a completely, radically different sentence,” he says.

Speaking a day after the world learned about a man in Las Vegas killing 58 people and wounded hundreds in the courtyard of a hotel, Bailie said the incident struck home for him, as a good friend of his was actually in Vegas celebrating his wedding anniversary at the Justin Aldean concert that tragically devolved into the largest mass shooting in American history.

When asked his stance on gun issues in Florida, he began by asserting that the U.S. Supreme Court had spoken “pretty clearly” that the Second Amendment means that every American has a personal, individual right to own weapons with reasonable regulations.

“We want to make sure that guns don’t fall into the hands of those who shouldn’t have it,” he says, adding that if a bill were proposed to do that, “I would absolutely have to take a look at the legislation.”

But when asked about support for controversial gun bills like open carry and/or campus carry that were proposed (but died) in the Legislature over the past couple of Sessions, Bailie backed off, saying that (specifically on the campus carry bill) he would need to study it further before offering an opinion.

“That’s certainly a bill that I would want to take a look at and see what kind of protections are built into it and what options I have to keep college campuses safe but also to allow students access to guns and to protect themselves …I know that there’s been a couple of incidents of sexual assault victims who testified wanting to have that ability to protect themselves.”

Bailie is also a “huge proponent” of charter schools in Florida, while concurrently showing appreciation to public school teachers.

“Parents should have opportunity to send their students to the best possible place for their kids to grow, to learn, and to give back into the community,” he says, adding that he qualified for Bright Futures and it aided him in paying for his associate degree at Pasco-Hernando County Community College.

When it comes to children’s education, Bailie says, “we want a fully funded public school system,” adding that “you can’t pay teachers enough.”

Raymond Blacklidge and Christopher Licatta III have also filed paperwork to run in the GOP primary for HD 69 next August. Blacklidge entered the race in June, and has raised more than $54,000 to date. No Democratic candidates have filed to run.

Last November, Peters defeated Democrat Jennifer Webb 57-43 percent.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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