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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Democratic House whip stumps for Jessica Ehrlich, a challenger to C.W. Bill Young

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U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D- MD., right, talks with a group of Democrats, Wednesday, with Democratic candidate Jessica Ehrlich. (Times photo, Scott Keeler)

Jessica Ehrlich is the latest Democrat to attempt to unseat U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores. Young has fended off Democrats before -- he’s held the seat since 1971.

At least one national Democrat, though, thinks Ehrlich has a chance: Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md. The Democratic House minority whip visited Ehrlich’s campaign office Wednesday morning to discuss Medicare with Ehrlich and Pinellas County seniors.

Hoyer cast the 2012 elections as a stark choice on the role of government in society.

“There is a real, very substantive difference in the approaches of the two parties … frankly, a chasm of difference,” he said.

Republican proposals for Medicare, Hoyer said, would move the program to private insurers while leaving the sickest seniors on traditional Medicare and driving up costs.

Young’s name wasn’t mentioned during the forum, but afterward Ehrlich said voters were ready for a change.

“He’s now been in office for half a century, and his views and what he’s doing really don’t represent the values of people in Pinellas County,” she said. “He’s voted twice now for this budget that would end, essentially, Medicare as we know it.”

Ehrlich, a lawyer and St. Petersburg native, worked in Washington for former Florida Republican Rep. Clay Shaw, as an aide on the Social Security subcommittee of Ways and Means. She then worked for Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch on the financial services committee.

Hoyer called Young “a wonderful person and a good friend of mine. I like Bill Young. But this is not about personalities. This is about two different visions and two different policies for how we grow jobs, build America, continue to provide security for our seniors, our children and people at risk.”

Hoyer is on a swing through Florida for Democratic candidates; he’s also meeting with Val Demings (challenging Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden), Keith Fitzgerald (challenging Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota) and Patrick Murphy (challenging Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation).

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 12:05pm]

    

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