Beverly Young, widow of the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, stood at David Jolly's side when he announced his candidacy and wrapped himself in the congressman's legacy. She appeared in TV ads for Jolly and hooked him up with some of Young's top money-raisers.
But the outspoken and unpredictable Mrs. Young disappeared from Jolly's campaign soon after he won his primary. Their friendship appeared more than a little strained last month, when Mrs. Young appeared on TV criticizing her late husband's former aide for replacing half a dozen staffers from Young's office.
Because of that, the new congressman no longer speaks to his mentor's wife.
"Since you have now so strongly expressed that you don't support me and are actively working against me, please don't contact me again unless it is a personal emergency for you, your family, or your health. For that I will always respond," Jolly told her in an email after that television appearance. "I remain concerned about you, but I don't engage with critics who simply try to tear me down for sport. And right now that's you. I will continue my relationship with Billy and Pat (the Youngs' sons), and I hope one day we can have one again."
Mrs. Young, a passionate advocate for veterans and active-duty military men and women, recently sought Jolly's help tapping into the funds of a foundation that Jolly and the Youngs helped create to assist people in need. She wanted to help one of the former Young aides not retained by Jolly who has severe Parkinson's disease and is in dire financial straits without a job.
A spokesman for Jolly said all spending decisions for the Clearwater-based Heroes & Families Foundation are made by its board members, though he offers legal advice as a volunteer. Pediatrician Bruce Epstein, a foundation donor whose wife is treasurer, said Jolly advised the board not to disburse any funds because they are awaiting IRS guidance on terminating Heroes & Families and transferring its roughly $70,000 to the Armed Forces Foundation.
For Mrs. Young, who is accustomed to getting access to top Pentagon and congressional leaders while crusading to help wounded soldiers, Jolly freezing her out is clearly frustrating.
"How can I possibly continue to carry on Bill's legacy and take care of our American heroes if my congressman refuses to take my calls and help me get the connections to the Pentagon that I need?" Mrs. Young said. "It will be our soldiers that suffer because he won't talk to me. This pettiness revolving around, 'I won, this is my ball now, not Congressman Young's anymore, and you can't play' is so very, very sad. This isn't what my late husband's wishes were."
At least, Mrs. Young said, U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, and Jeff Miller, R-Pensacola, and several other top former Pentagon officials continue to work with her.
Sykes talks of ouster
The Rev. Manuel Sykes of St. Petersburg appears today on Political Connections on Bay News 9 to discuss the way local, state, and national Democratic Party officials pushed him out of the Congressional District 13 race. The prominent African-American minister did drop out, clearing the field for a political newcomer from Tampa. Ed Jany quit the race himself last week, leaving no Democrat to take on Jolly.
The message sent to many African-Americans was clear, Sykes said.
"What they're saying is, 'Stay in your place. It's okay to run for local elections, state elections, but you're not going to represent us in Washington. We have a place carved out for you,' " Sykes said in the interview airing at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
GOP buys old website
Four years ago, the Florida Democratic Party launched a new web site, CutandRunCrist.com, to drive home the message that when the going got tough, then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist bailed on Florida to run for U.S. Senate.
"By running for U.S. Senate, Charlie Crist has cut and run on the Sunshine State, once again taking the easy way out, avoiding responsibility and leaving the hard work of facing Florida's problems to the next governor," Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman said at the time.
That happens to be the same message the Florida GOP is using now as Crist runs as a Democrat for the job he gave up. So it was mighty fortunate for the Republicans that the state Democratic Party did not renew that site, enabling Republicans to buy it.
The Florida Republican Party relaunched CutandRunCrist.com, which features a bunch of quotes from current Crist supporters attacking him for leaving Florida in its time of need.
For those keeping track, this is the third former Florida Democratic Party web site that the GOP has bought because the Democrats neglected to renew it. The Florida GOP also owns EmptyChairCharlie.com and FloridaDems.com.