Thursday, April 26, 2018
Politics

Late congressman's son — Bill Young II — drops the 'II' for the ballot

ST. PETERSBURG — His friends call him Billy, he's officially Bill Young II, but voters will see simply "Bill Young" on the ballot.

Why?

"That's my name," said Young, the son of the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young.

Young, whose full name is Charles William Young II, is running as a Republican for the state House District 68 seat held by Democrat Dwight Dudley. Young, 29, said he has heard grumbling about him trying to capitalize on his late father's name and called that theory "ridiculous."

Though his friends and family have called him "Billy" since he was a boy, Young said he's "Bill" in the professional world. He's "Bill Young II" on Twitter and Facebook, but he said he's not including "II" on the ballot or in his campaign material because "people don't address me as Bill Young the second."

He also noted that his father appeared on the ballot as "C.W. Bill Young."

"If I was trying to pull something at the ballot, I would have put 'C.W.' on there," he said. "My name is my name, and I'm not changing it for an election because my opponents are potentially intimidated by the strong family name I have."

For his part, Dudley isn't complaining and hasn't heard grousing from supporters, either. He did acknowledge some voters might be confused.

"It is his legal name, and I think any derivation of 'Bill Young' is a pretty normal, natural thing," said Dudley, a 59-year-old St. Petersburg attorney elected in 2012. "Does he want to benefit from his father's good name? Of course he does. That's a reasonable thing. I'm not going to begrudge him that at all. We live in a meritocracy, not an aristocracy, and it's not going to be by name alone that you take office."

Young works in business development for the National Forensic Science Technology Center, a not-for-profit corporation in Largo that provides training and services for crime labs.

Also in the race is Republican Joshua Black, a 31-year-old taxi driver from Pinellas Park.

House District 68 covers much of northeast St. Petersburg and eastern Pinellas Park.

Tony Brunello, a political science professor at Eckerd College, said the name recognition will help because some voters who know he's the son of the late congressman will vote for him automatically.

"I don't know that it's going to be a huge calling card, but it might help him get a few votes," Brunello said. "What I don't think will happen is a lot of people saying, 'Look at that guy trading off his father's name.' "

With three weeks before the weeklong qualifying period begins, some House races are shaping up to be more competitive than others. Among them is a contest for an open seat that features the son of another prominent politician.

The race for the District 67 seat, left vacant by term-limited Republican Rep. Ed Hooper, includes Republican Chris Latvala, Hooper's former legislative aide and the son of state Sen. Jack Latvala. Chris Latvala of Clearwater is vice president of his father's printing business.

The other Republicans are Christopher Shepard, an Iraq war veteran who lost to Hooper in 2012, and Frederick Thomson of Clearwater. The Democrats are Thomas Ryan, Stephen Sarnoff and Shawna Vercher, all of Clearwater. Ryan works in packaging for a dairy company; Sarnoff is an accounts coordinator in the city of Clearwater's solid waste department; and Vercher is an author-media strategist.

In District 65, which covers the northwestern part of the county, Republicans Chris Sprowls and Debbie Faulkner, both Palm Harbor attorneys, have filed for the chance to challenge Democratic incumbent Carl Zimmerman.

District 66 Republican incumbent Larry Ahern got his first opponent this month in Democrat Lorena Grizzle, a special education elementary school teacher from Largo and the daughter of the late, longtime Florida legislator Mary Grizzle.

In District 69, St. Petersburg Republican incumbent Kathleen Peters no longer has a primary challenger after Redington Beach businessman Leo Govoni suspended his campaign. St. Petersburg attorney Scott Orsini is the lone Democrat in the race. Libertarian Randy Taylor of St. Petersburg withdrew recently.

In District 70, Democrat Darryl Rouson has one challenger in perennial St. Petersburg Republican candidate and community activist Sharon Russ. The district includes southeastern Pinellas and portions of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.

Republican incumbent Rep. James Grant doesn't yet have an opponent in District 64, which includes northeastern Pinellas and a chunk of Hillsborough.

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