District 68 of the Florida House of Representatives is the ultimate battleground seat in legislative politics. It has been held by six different individuals over the past sixteen years — a turnover rate unequaled by the 119 other districts which comprise the House. At least four million dollars has been spent over the last two decades by candidates, parties and outside groups to win control of this seat — it’s that important of a seat.
Currently, District 68 is represented by Democrat Dwight Dudley, a well-liked, but not popular, local attorney whose extended family has deep ties in the community. It goes without saying that Dudley is walking around with a target on his back as Republicans in Tampa Bay and Tallahassee plot how to win the seat back after Dudley won it from them in 2012.
The question is not if a Republican will step up to challenge Dudley, but which one?
Well, there is one name ricocheting in local and state political circles … Billy Young. No, not Bill Young. Billy Young, as in the son of the longtime congressman who was drawn into District 68 after the last round of reapportionment.
Young, 28, is an outreach specialist with National Forensic Science Technology Center, a not-for-profit corporation in Largo that provides training and services for state and local crime labs. He is also a graduate of the University of South Florida.
Young’s name has been bantered about as a possible candidate for at least two months. He was recently in Tallahassee, where he was asked to meet with state Republican leaders to discuss the possibility of his running in 2014.
However, that’s as far as Young is prepared to go right now. Reached by telephone, Young said he and his wife are expecting a child in July and do not want to do anything to distract from such a momentous occasion.
“After that,” said Young, ” I will give the prospect of public service, something my family knows about, its due diligence.”
“I most definitely want to do something in politics,” said Young. “But it has to be the right time for me and family. That’s what comes first. But because I put that first, I believe the voters of District 68 can respect any decision I reach.”
Asked one more time if he planned to run, Young said, “If I do run, I’ll be ready by the third quarter” (meaning he’d announce sometime near October of 2013).
There’s no doubt Young would be instantly credible as a candidate.
“People are already asking me where they can sign up to help,” said Alan Suskey, a Tallahassee-based lobbyist with long ties to the Young family. “But it’s not just his last name that makes him credible, it’s his personality … his principles. He’d be a great representative for that district.”
And what about the other Bill Young, you know the longest serving member of Congress. Well, we’ll have to wait and see about that one, also. But something tells me if one Bill Young is on the ballot, there will probably be two.
Material from Bill Adair of the Tampa Bay Times was used in this post.