Bob Buesing is finally making it official: The Tampa lawyer and Democrat is filing paperwork today to make another run against State Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, in what's likely to be one of the 2018's marquee Florida legislative races.
Democrats see the District 18 race as one of their top chances to flip a state Senate seat from red to blue in what they hope will be a Democratic wave election year. It's also a seat Democrats believe they must hold in order to build a state Senate majority in the future.
Democratic-oriented advocacy groups such as Ruth's List and The Alliance liberal are likely to pour money into the race.
Buesing, 64, lost to Young in 2016 by 7 percentage points with adult entertainment magnate Joe Redner taking almost 10 percent. Redner says he won't run again this year and has contributed to Buesing.
Republicans, meanwhile, spent more than $5 million last year to win the seat and will fight tenaciously to protect their incumbent.
Young already has about $850,000 in her campaign account and her political committee, plus an advantage in name recognition after six years in the state House prior to being elected to the Senate.
District 18 covers the northwest quadrant of the county and extends through downtown and South Tampa.
It's one of only two Senate districts on the ballot in 2018 that are currently held by Republicans but were won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 – she won it by about 5 points while narrowly losing statewide.
Buesing is a prominent construction lawyer who has been active as a volunteer in charities relating to child welfare and early childhood education.
He and his wife Karen have two adult children. In addition, in the past 12 years they've taken in another six young people aged 14-21, some handicapped or homeless, whom they call "bonus kids." He has pledged to donate his Senate salary to the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA.
Buesing has said for months that he was interested in a rematch against Young, but held off an announcement while he tried to get commitments of support from labor- and progressive-oriented advocacy groups who back Democratic campaigns. Some sought to recruit a different candidate, but party insiders say they've now settled on Buesing.
In an announcement statement, Buesing cited his charitable work for the YMCA, the county's Early Learning Coalition and other charities, and commitment to standard Democratic issues – quality public education, accessible health care and environmental protection.
He said legislators including Young seek to "turn Florida into a testing ground for Donald Trump's worst ideas. … using our tax dollars for corporate giveaways, damaging our public schools, waging war on women's rights, demonizing immigrants, and depriving our most vulnerable residents of healthcare."