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Jolly's campaign kickoff comes with endorsement from above

C.W. Bill Young represented his Pinellas County district for nearly 43 years until his death three weeks ago, so it's no wonder people tend to refer to congressional District 13 as "Bill Young's seat."

But as a nationally watched campaign gets under way to succeed the Indian Shores Republican, voters may have to ask themselves if any congressman, no matter how beloved, can bequeath a seat. Because it seems that, from heaven above, Young has endorsed his former aide and personal attorney, lobbyist David Jolly.

On his deathbed, Rep. Young asked Jolly to run for his seat, Beverly Young, the congressman's widow, said at Jolly's campaign kickoff last week.

"This was Bill's choice," said Mrs. Young, who initially had not ruled out running herself.

"This is what Bill wanted, and this is what I want," she said. "Bill said (to Jolly), 'I have a legacy and I have a lot of things that I'd like to finish and I need somebody that understands, that knows how I feel, that has the passion, who knows how to get it done.' … He said, 'I really need you to do it. I need you to continue what Beverly and I have done for the troops.' "

Jolly told Buzz that Young told him "several times" that he hoped Jolly would succeed him in Congress, which is a little awkward considering Young's son, Bill Young II, strongly considered running for the seat. Jolly said Young's son was not present during those conversations, and Bill Young II declined to discuss that.

The younger Young also declined to appear at Jolly's campaign rally, along with his mother and brother Patrick Young.

"My dad didn't believe in getting involved in primaries and it served him well for 53 years. At this point that is my position," said Bill Young II, who later tweeted that he regretted that former county Commissioner Neil Brickfield decided against challenging Jolly for the nomination.

Democrats celebrating

Democrats may be an endangered species in Tallahassee, but they are thriving in Tampa Bay. With last week's St. Petersburg elections, Democrats are poised not only to control the mayoral offices of the two biggest cities in Florida's top political battleground, but also hold 14 of the 15 City Council seats in Tampa and St. Petersburg. The lone remaining Republican is St. Petersburg council member Bill Dudley.

We've heard some Republicans grumbling that former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, a loyal Republican who still holds political ambitions, did not endorse Republican Mayor Bill Foster over Democrat Rick Kriseman. "Rick Baker's silence has hurt the GOP on St. Pete Mayor's race," tweeted state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater.

There are several reasons Baker decided against endorsing the fellow Republican, but our hunch is the most important is that the Kriseman campaign kept Baker abreast of all its polling that consistently showed Kriseman comfortably ahead.

Local, vocal politics

Jolly makes it clear that he will do all he can to remind voters that Democratic candidate Alex Sink has never lived in Pinellas County. It remains to be seen how potent the carpetbagger criticism will be once Sink moves from eastern Hillsborough to Feather Sound, but in a fundraising pitch Sink could hardly have sounded more defensive about the question:

"What a start! Everywhere we go in Pinellas, from Pete and Shorty's restaurant to picnics in John Taylor Park, folks are saying one thing: they're with Alex," gushed an email from Sink last week. You can practically hear the voters reacting now: "Gee whiz, Alex mentioned a random restaurant and park in Pinellas County! She really is a local!"

The email included a link to a video from the Sink campaign featuring positive quotes about Sink's candidacy, including several from the Tampa Bay Tribune, which is interesting because there is no such publication. The campaign later corrected its mistake.

Family fundraising

Charlie Crist holds his first Tampa Bay fundraiser as a Democrat on Tuesday evening at the Snell Isle home of Crist's sister, Dr. Elizabeth Crist-Hyden. The honorary co-hosts are all family members: Charlie and Carole Crist; Dr. Charles and Nancy Crist, Byron and Catherine Kennedy, and Emory and Margaret Wood. Chairing the event are John Bales, Bill Blews, Gary Hess and Trevor Burgess, Tim and Donna Main, Steve and Tiffany Yerrid. The host committee includes Jeff and Angela Adams, Jim Albright, Bob Churuti, Ana Cruz, Justin and Elena Day, Dwight Dudley, Sandy Freedman, Fran Haasch, Sam Heller and Goldie Thompson, Kriseman, Jeff Lieser and Ghada Skaff, Ronald McDonald, Scott McIntyre, Chip Merlin, Joe and Kathy Saunders, Lorna Taylor, and Greg Truax.

Tickets cost $1,000 and each host committee member is expected to raise at least $10,000.

Crist on Bay News 9

Crist also appears Sunday on Political Connections on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Winners of the week

David Jolly. Remarkably, the little-known lobbyist and former aide to the late C.W. Bill Young looks likely to avoid a serious GOP primary challenge to succeed Young.

Cesar Fernandez. Having last year led the successful and tough state Senate campaign of Jeff Clemmons, D-Lake Worth, and now the successful mayoral campaign of Rick Kriseman, the 24-year-old Fernandez has emerged as the newest hotshot Democratic operative in Florida.

Loser of the week

George LeMieux. Charlie Crist transformed George LeMieux from an obscure and unsuccessful political candidate into a wealthy former U.S. senator. So you might think a grateful LeMieux would keep quiet about his disappointment in his old friend becoming a Democratic candidate. No such class. LeMieux instead was first in line to publicly trash the man to whom he owes so much. We're reminded of something veteran GOP strategist J.M. "Mac" Stipanovich said a couple of years ago: "George LeMieux is a Mount Everest of ambition shoehorned into a molehill of a man."

Jolly's campaign kickoff comes with endorsement from above 11/09/13 [Last modified: Saturday, November 9, 2013 8:43pm]

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