Friday, April 20, 2018
Politics

Two Pinellas GOP candidates want to take on Democratic state Rep. Dwight Dudley

The starting point for any discussion of the Republicans in the state House District 68 race begins with one word: civility.

The first reason comes from candidate Bill Young, who said he was inspired to run for office because of his father, longtime U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who died last year after serving more than four decades in Congress and was known for civility and bipartisanship.

The second reason is the younger Young won't talk negatively about his opponent, Joshua Black, even though he was almost universally panned earlier this year when he sent a strange message via Twitter saying President Barack Obama should be hanged for treason. The comment earned him a visit from the Secret Service and his own party chairman called his comments "wholly unacceptable."

Young, 30, said his father taught him to talk about his own strengths, not his opponent's weaknesses.

Asked about his controversial Twitter comment, Black, 32, said he thought Obama had committed treason, and the penalty for treason is death.

For the primary race, Young has raised more than $136,000, while Black has raised $8,728.

The winner of the Aug. 26 primary will face incumbent state Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg.

The general election is likely to be much more competitive in the district, which includes northeast St. Petersburg and eastern Pinellas Park. Roughly 37 percent of district voters are Democrats, 34 percent are Republicans and 29 percent are independents or members of smaller political parties.

Candidates with famous parents face challenges in campaigns. They gain name recognition, but sometimes get accused of riding coattails.

For his part, Young does not shy away from citing his father as a mentor.

When asked about constituent service, he said he remembers many times when his family would dine out, and people would come up to thank his father. A lot of times, customers would say they didn't always agree with the elder Young's politics, but supported him because he was a good listener and helped solve problems.

Asked what he and his father disagreed on, Young said he favored Mike Huckabee early in the 2008 GOP presidential primary, and Newt Gingrich early in 2012. But his father supported Mitt Romney both times, he said. Asked if that made him more conservative than his father, Young said, "I think so. He'd tell you that."

Young of Pinellas Park grew up partly in Pinellas County and partly in Virginia. He graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a degree in political science. He is married with two children and works in business development for the National Forensic Science Technology Center in Largo.

When asked about his plans as a state representative, he said he wanted state government to conduct a review to look for unnecessary regulations that slow the growth of business. Asked for an example of a regulation that should be done away with, he cited a 6 percent sales tax on commercial leases.

In general, he said he wants to push for smaller government and lower taxes. He opposes Greenlight Pinellas, the transportation initiative that calls for a penny sales tax increase. He also plans to vote against the Nov. 4 ballot measure that would allow the use of medical marijuana. He thinks it is too broad.

Black also calls for lower taxes, so much so that he thinks Florida should stop accepting money from the federal government. "We can't continue to rely on the federal government to bail us out," he said.

Black, a taxi driver who is married with a child on the way, said his philosophy is "like what Reagan said. Government is not the answer to the problem, government is the problem."

Among other things, Black said he believes in people's right to bear arms, and said nonviolent felons should be allowed to carry guns.

Black plans to vote against Greenlight Pinellas. But he will vote in favor of the medical marijuana measure. He thinks marijuana should be legalized and said that in general, he opposes the "war on drugs."

"I don't think it's good for people to take cocaine or heroin or things like that. I just think that locking them up is ineffective."

Contact Curtis Krueger at [email protected] or (727) 892-8232. Follow @ckruegertimes.

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