Who is likely to run for Bill Young’s seat now that he is retiring?

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U.S. Rep. Bill Young announced on Wednesday that he will not seek reelection in 2014. Young made the announcement in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.

Here is some instant analysis of who might run for Young’s seat in 2014.

On the Democrat side, barring Charlie Crist entering the race — something I think is very unlikely — the leading contender is County Commissioner Ken Welch. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has previously attempted to recruit Welch to run for the seat and is probably already on the phone with him now. The Democrat currently running for the seat, Jessica Ehrlich, remains a factor, but will likely not be the nominee. She just doesn’t have the star power to beat Welch or any of the other Democrats who might run. Other Dems who may throw their hat in the ring are County Commissioners Charlie Justice, who ran before for the seat, and Janet Long.  A darkhorse candidate is businessman Scott Wagman. 

On the Republican side, the leading contender is state Senator Jeff Brandes. Among the major contenders, his ideology fits best with the current Republican leadership. He has the personal wealth to self-finance. He is an Army veteran. He’s telegenic. And he’s fearless, having taken on a Democratic icon in his first race for the State House. Brandes is also young enough that he has the time to ascend the seniority system in Congress.

Another strong contender is former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker. First of all, if he runs, Brandes doesn’t — Brandes has that much respect for Baker. Baker has the intellectual firepower to beat any opponent. He also has cross-party appeal; when he ran for re-election in 2005, he won every precinct in the city, including those in Midtown. 

The third major contender is State Senator Jack Latvala. There’s no better political mind in Tampa Bay than Latvala. He would garner endorsements from the beaches to the Bay. His name rings out throughout Young’s district. But does Latvala really want to be in D.C.?

Other Republicans who are in the mix are former Clearwater mayor Frank Hibbard and County Commissioner Karen Seel. Former Young aide David Jolly previously thought of running. I don’t think County Commissioner John Morroni will run, considering his health issues. There’s also the likelihood of one or two Tea Party candidates entering the race.

Who am I missing?

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.