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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Congressional candidates carved up at Tiger Bay



CLEARWATER -- Democratic candidates who want to take on U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young in November debated at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club today and took questions from audience members.

In one pointed question, a member asked how, with all three candidates' lackluster fundraising, the hopefuls expect to beat Young, who has held the post about 38 years.

In order of answer:

Max Linn, a multimillionaire former financial planner who ran for governor with the Reform Party in 2006 and fought for term limits on the Florida Legislature, said it will take a movement to defeat the incumbent.

"I think I'm the only candidate who has what it takes as far as the resources," Linn said. "I have the resources, the energy and the enthusiasm to take out Bill Young."

Bob Hackworth, the mayor of Dunedin, said it's unrealistic to think that any of the Democratic challengers can compete with Young's war chest, which he said is built from relationships with special interests.

"I think there is a strategy here," Hackworth said. He said the nominee will have to reach out to independents and Republicans and argue to voters that their representative should be a citizen-legislator, not a career politician.

Samm Simpson, a former marketing executive who ran against Young in 2006 and received 34 percent of the vote, asked the Tiger Bay club if they've arranged a debate with Young. She said she met with him a couple months ago and he promised to debate her if she's the nominee.

"If we're going to win against Congressman Young, we're going to have to debate him," she said, adding that she believes money corrupts politics and doesn't want donors giving her orders. "I can go toe to toe with Mr. Young on the issues in that debate."

-- Stephanie Garry, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:32am]


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