Republican Rep. Mike Bilirakis, who once said members of Congress should be in office no more than 12 years, plans to ask the voters of the Tampa Bay area to send him back to Washington for years 13 and 14.
"I'm running," said Bilirakis, a Republican who represents north Pinellas and parts of Pasco and Hillsborough counties.
Bilirakis was first elected in 1982. When asked two years ago about his advocacy of term limits, he said, "I plan to remain true to that pledge."
But he left himself a big escape route: If he were working on an important issue, such as health care, he would consider another term.
That work became evident Thursday, when he and 29 colleagues filed a bill to reform a handful of the problems in the health care system. He sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will consider health care reform in the coming months.
Democrat Bob Swick, a 52-year-old businessman from Palm Harbor, plans to run against Bilirakis this fall. Swick faults the incumbent for not attracting well-paying jobs to the district.
He also is not surprised that Bilirakis is running. "It's like so many other things. He speaks out of both sides of his mouth," Swick said.
_ David Dahl