Jessica Ehrlich walks out of forum as Bill Young no-shows; son Billy subs in but ‘feels like Clint Eastwood’

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My colleagues at Patch have a series of interesting, if not awkward, videos from last night’s Meet the Candidates Forum sponsored by The Gulfport Democratic Club and St. Petersburg Republican Club.

After it was clear that U.S. Rep. Bill Young was a no-show for the event, Jessica Ehrlich, Young’s Democratic opponent for District 13, walked off the stage at the Gulfport Casino Ballroom after giving her two-minute introduction.

That left Young’s son, Billy, in his place as the rules for the forum permitted a campaign to send a representative in the candidate’s place if unable to make the event.

Billy Young stated his father could not attend the forum due to scheduled events in Washington D.C., including a briefing with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Young provided printed flyers of the representatives’s schedule to audience members.

“I feel like Clint Eastwood up here,” said Young, who was surrounded by empty chairs on the dias.

Asked why she walked out of the forum, Ehrlich said, “I don’t believe you should be elected to office at any level if you aren’t willing to engage or … to answer for the votes you have taken.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.