She is young. She is bright. She is good looking. She is experienced in government.
She is Jessica Ehrlich.
Prior to today, I really didn’t know much about Jessica Ehrlich. I just knew that she was a candidate to unseat Bill Young, who might be the most ineffective Member of Congress, showing almost no legislative accomplishments in the last 39 years. I thought that Cliff Stearns was extremely ineffective, but Bill Young really takes the cake.
But looking more and more into Jessica Ehrlich, this candidate really does have the resume. Let me just list what she has on her website:
A graduate of Vanderbilt University and Southern Methodist University School of Law, and a former clerk for the Chief Judge of the U.S. Federal Court for Middle Florida in Tampa, Ehrlich worked in international business and in law before transitioning to public service. Ehrlich worked for then U.S. Representative Clay Shaw (R-FL) on the Social Security Subcommittee of the Committee on Ways and Means. She then served as counsel for U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch (D-MA) on the Financial Services Committee. Ehrlich left Washington to return to the private sector where she developed technology to help businesses better understand the legislative process.
This is no slouch, but exactly the type of candidate that can knock off Bill Young, especially in a presidential election year. Not only does she look, sound and act the part, she also has the connections here in Florida and in Washington DC that can actually make Young sweat. In fact, Steny Hoyer is coming down to help Ehrlich out. And with the lack of any legislative accomplishments by Young, I have always wondered what the big deal was about him.
For years, Democrats have always written off the Young seat. We have always said “as soon as Bill Young retires, we can pick up that seat.” Cycle after cycle, we wait for him to retire. And cycle after cycle, he decides he wants to run. Sometimes we get good candidates, like Charlie Justice, to run against Young. And in many cases, the Democrats don’t throw money into that campaign. Now, with Hoyer coming down to help Ehrlich, maybe the DCCC is finally taking this race seriously.
Democrats have had mixed success in Pinellas County. And while the early 1990s saw quality Democrats winning around St. Petersburg, there is a feeling that Democrats could do even better. Yet time after time, we don’t preform as well as we should have. I personally feel the lack of any serious, well qualified, highly funded candidate for Congress is one of the reasons for this failure. If Democrats just take a pass on Bill Young, why should they take the rest of this county seriously. And trust me, as much as I love Orange County and am from Orlando, Pinellas County should be the biggest target for Democrats. Pinellas can make or break elections, and building a strong support base can do that.
Jessica Ehrlich embodies everything that is needed to beat Bill Young. She is experienced, yet has youth. Young is the exact opposite, as he is ineffective and 82-years old. Ehrlich has the looks (which, trust me, matters. Why else do you think we have Pam Bondi). Bill Young’s look, eh, not as much. Ehrlich represents the new look of Florida. Bill Young represents Florida’s past, when many of us didn’t live here.
When looking at this election, I am reminded of the 1972 movie The Candidate. A new, fresh candidate compared to the old Florida ways reminds me of the Bill McKay vs. Crocker Jarmon match up. One quote in that movie really reflects what a Ehrlich vs. Young general might embody is when McKay (played by Robert Redford) is told how he could possibly win the election by an advertisement executive. The executive says:
“You might just make it my friend. People are going to take a look at our guy and see he has guts. They’re going to take a look at The Crock and think he can’t get it up anymore.”
That is exactly the same image of this upcoming election. If Ehrlich wins the primary, she can be the mold of what Democrats need in order to build a stronger party in Florida. She is the complete package. Obviously EMILY’s List and Steny Hoyer is taking her seriously. So should the rest of the Democratic Party in Florida.