C.W. Bill Young shows no signs of retiring, or abandoning earmarks

There's been an awful lot of chatter and speculation in recent months about U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young finally retiring in 2010 after 40 years in Congress.

We're going out on a limb here to predict that Young, 79, runs for a 21st term. Check out the Indian Shores Republican on Political Connections today on Bay News 9 and see if you detect any sign that he's ready to call it quits.

"We would have a hard time giving that up, that is really important to us," he said when asked about he and his wife, Beverly Young, moving back to Pinellas and no longer regularly visiting and helping wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital.

In the interview and at a Tiger Bay speech last week, Young was coy about his plans except to note how many people are encouraging him to run again. The blunt-talking Beverly noted to us, "Well, he hasn't told me to put the house on the market."

Young, who has funneled many millions of dollars to Tampa Bay, is clearly unimpressed with Sen. George LeMieux's pledge (Marco Rubio makes the same promise) never to file any budget earmarks for hometown projects.

"Florida has done very well because of the Congress recognizing needs," Young said. "You want to talk about earmarks? The first big appropriation that I did years ago was to build a hospital for veterans at Bay Pines."

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Bay News 9.

Democrats watch GOP in Florida

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine was working the Interstate 4 corridor Thursday and Friday, raising money and meeting with activists (and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio) in Tampa, Orlando and Sarasota. The former Virginia governor told Buzz he's paying close attention to Florida campaigns for governor and the Senate and the Republican Senate primary between Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio.

"We are really struck by this deep divide between what we call the tea party side of the Republican Party and the Republican moderates, such as they exist," Kaine said. "That divide worked for us when the Republican Party chased Arlen Specter into the Democratic Party in March, it worked for us when the Republican Party turned on their own congressional candidate in Upstate New York, and we think this continuing divide is definitely going to have an effect in the Florida Senate race."

He dismissed the suggestion that Sink should distance herself from Obama, given his falling approval ratings: "No percentage in doing that. I had a gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, my erstwhile successor, who did that despite a lot of advice to the contrary, and he did very poorly," said Kaine, suggesting Sink should instead work closely with the president on helping small businesses and creating jobs.

"She is the best-positioned candidate for governor we've had for some time in Florida, and the president is very supportive of her, and so am I."

Thrasher says he'll meet pledge to GOP

State Sen. John Thrasher said he is on track to meet his pledge to raise $1 million for the Republican Party of Florida as part of his bid for chairman. Thrasher told the Buzz he has raised more than $250,000 and expects to continue that pace for the final three weeks before the Feb. 20 vote, in which he faces underdog Sharon Day. He said it's an exciting time to raise money after the GOP won the Massachusetts Senate race.

Republican activists are scheduled to hold an election to replace Jim Greer as party chairman Feb. 20. It's shaping up to be a close vote.

Times staff writer John Frank contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam Smith can be reached at asmith@sptimes.com.

Winner of the week

Frank Peterman. The Department of Juvenile Justice secretary is amazingly lucky he has to reimburse taxpayers only $25,000 for dubious travel expenses, rather than getting fired from his $120,000 job. While most Floridians were tightening their belts, Peterman, according to a state investigation, was billing them to travel often to his hometown where he kept a "not robust" work schedule. Nice gig.

Loser of the week

Marco Rubio. At his largest ever news conference with the Florida press last week, a defensive Rubio dodged question after question about his actions as House speaker, about his employment, about high-speed rail, about stimulus, about the state GOP. Strong fundraising and poll numbers have poised him to be the front-runner for the GOP Senate nomination. He'd better ramp up his game as the spotlight grows.

C.W. Bill Young shows no signs of retiring, or abandoning earmarks 01/30/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 30, 2010 7:07pm]

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