Despite intense pressure, former St. Petersburg mayor Rick Baker, a favorite of Florida Republicans for a Congressional bid after the death last month of long-serving U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, says he will not seek the House seat.
With Baker now out of contention, a GOP primary will be hard to avoid, according to the Tampa Bay Times
, which reported Baker's decision Saturday.
Young, who died aged 82 on Oct. 18, had been the House's longest-serving Republican with a 22-term career and former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
"I am thankful for the many friends who have encouraged me to run for Congress. The honor is greater because of the respect I have for Congressman Bill Young and his long and accomplished record of public service," Baker told the Times.
"I treasure my time as mayor and may likely consider a return to public service at some point — but not now," he said. "After much prayerful thought I have decided that I will not run for Congress at this time."
Instead, Baker said he wants to focus on his family and work improving St. Petersburg. "I look forward to enthusiastically supporting the Republican nominee for this Congressional seat," he added.
While Baker is out, Young's former general counsel and personal attorney David Jolly says he will seek the nomination for Florida's 13th District, a move endorsed by the late congressman's widow Beverly, who told the Times she is behind Jolly "200 percent."
Beverly Young had considered for a time running herself, noting the enormous void her husband's death had left for the Pinellas County-based district. Young's brother Tom, 79, a retired construction company owner, also briefly pondered the race
as did the congressman's son, Bill Young II.
"It's something that I think I'm uniquely qualified for and I say that very humbly," Jolly said in announcing his candidacy, the Times reported
Other Republicans who are considering joining the race include former Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard, former county commissioner Neil Brickfield and current commissioner Karen Seel.
Among Democrats, Alex Sink, who lost the 2008 governor's race to Rick Scott is favorite despite having to move into the district from her current home in Thonotosassa, on the other side of Tampa Bay. Jessica Ehrlich, who lost to Young in 2012 has also stated her intention to run again.
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