The leading Republican candidates to fill the unexpired term of the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young offer a contrast in political backgrounds and styles.
David Jolly, a long-time aide and chief counsel to Young, learned politics at Young’s elbow. He has a command of the issues facing Congress and an understanding of how to navigate the halls in Washington.
“I can step in on day one and be effective,” he says.
Kathleen Peters, a former South Pasadena mayor and current state representative, learned politics from the ground up and promises her work ethic will compensate for a lack of familiarity with Washington.
“I’ve got gumption,” she says.
Considering the pressing issues facing Congress, we think Jolly is the better choice to be the Republican candidate for District 13, which incorporates most of Pinellas County.
Jolly is an attorney and business owner who was born in Dunedin.
He worked for Young in Washington and returned to Pinellas in 2006. He has worked as a lobbyist and consultant, owned businesses and is vice president of a private equity company in Clearwater.
He is a fiscal conservative who thinks the Health Care Act needs to be overturned, though not at the risk of shutting down the government. He supports a delay in assessing new flood insurance rates, but thinks the real solution is to create a national disaster program that fairly assesses the risks and costs for natural disasters across the country.
His knowledge of Young’s inner workings in support of the military would serve the district and the entire Tampa Bay area well.
While his work as a lobbyist has become fodder for his opponents, he often worked in support of military contractors, including a local firm that added jobs to develop a technology to better detect roadside bombs.
Peters has a reputation for doggedness that we find appealing. She has worked for the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County, with YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg and with the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce.
In her brief tenure in the Florida Legislature, she is credited with pushing through a measure that eliminated a tax inequity affecting condominium owners.
But her knowledge of the issues facing Congress — a legislative body far more complex than the Florida Legislature — only skims the surface.
A third Republican candidate, Mark Bircher, is an attorney, commercial airline pilot and retired Marine Reserve brigadier general running his first campaign. He advocates a return to the country’s founding principles of individual liberty, limited government and fiscal responsibility, but is too rigid in some of his views.
The primary winner Jan. 14 will face Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 general election.
Bill Young’s shoes can never be filled. The legendary U.S. House member served for over four decades and his legacy is evident across his Pinellas County district and the entire Tampa Bay region. Republican voters need to choose a candidate who could quickly build upon that legacy. Kathleen Peters is a quality candidate, capable and likeable. But Jolly is better prepared for the job.
In the Republican primary for the District 13 U.S. House seat, The Tampa Tribune recommends David Jolly.