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The Republican aims to continue his focus on the military.
By BILL ADAIR and WES ALLISON, Times Staff Writers
Published January 18, 2008
WASHINGTON - Rep. C.W. Bill Young, the white-haired Republican who has brought hundreds of millions of federal dollars to Pinellas County, has decided to run for re-election.
Young, 77, hasn't made a formal announcement, but he confirmed Thursday that he planned to seek a 20th term and that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will headline a Washington fundraiser for him Feb. 25.
Young, the senior Republican on the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said he wanted to run for re-election so he could continue to address the needs of the military.
"When we leave Iraq with victory and the Iraqis have a stable operation, we're going to have to do a lot of rebuilding," he said in an interview. "We're going to have worn out our equipment. That's what I do, that's my job, to make sure the military has the proper equipment."
He said he will continue to focus on helping wounded soldiers, which has been a focus for him and his wife, Beverly.
He estimated that he has about $575,000 in his campaign account but says he is prepared for a tough campaign.
"I always prepare for strong opposition, and I don't take any opponent lightly," he said.
After Young was accused of not doing enough to prevent problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Democrats said they might recruit a major candidate to run against him.
But no high-profile challengers have emerged, and Young will be considered a heavy favorite.
His decision to stay will keep the federal spigot open for Pinellas County - and the state. Even though his party does not control the House, he got about $180-million in federal money for his projects last year. Much of that money has gone to St. Petersburg College, the University of South Florida and defense contractors in Pinellas.
Young's decision is welcome news for the Republicans in Congress, who lost the majority of the House in 2006 and already face an uphill battle to reclaim it this year.
At least 21 Republicans have already died or decided to retire or seek other office, compared with just five Democrats.
Fighting over open seats can be a costly endeavor, and Republican strategists are clearly hoping to minimize their exposure in what promises to be another tough election year.
Young, too, is seen as a deal-maker, and his senior slot on the defense subcommittee has put him in a prime position to mitigate the Democrats' attempts to use their power of the purse to force President Bush to change his strategy in Iraq.
Bill Adair can be reached at email@example.com Wes Allison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Last modified January 17, 2008, 23:58:29]