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    Democrat, veteran wants Bilirakis' spot

    By MATTHEW WAITE

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 22, 2001


    NEW PORT RICHEY -- James Wright doesn't have much of a platform yet, but he said Wednesday that he is running to unseat nine-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis in 2002.

    Wright, 54, a Vietnam veteran who retired to New Port Richey after five years as an Army recruiter in Maine, said he has the time to help people in the 9th District, which covers parts of Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties.

    "I'm not too happy with what went on in that last election," he said. "I thought maybe it was time for a change."

    Wright was in Vietnam in 1965-69 with the Navy and later joined the Army, retiring as a sergeant first class. He earned a bachelor's degree in government from Windham College in Putney, Vt., in 1973.

    He retired to New Port Richey in 1993 and is a member of the West Pasco Democratic Club.

    Wright is the second candidate from west Pasco to announce a bid for the congressional seat of Bilirakis, a Republican.

    New Port Richey lawyer Chuck Kalogianis, defeated two years ago in a run for the state House of Representatives, has also announced, but redistricting could put his home in another district by election time.

    Wright said he will form a platform, with issues such as crime, taxes and schools as the mainstays, as the election draws closer.

    "I don't really have a lot of highfalutin ideas," he said. "I'm just willing to work with people to get some of these things fixed."

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