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USF employee to run for Congressional seat

An adviser at the USF St. Petersburg College of Business will be running for a United States Congress seat in the November 2010 election.

State Sen. Charlie Justice said he is running on a national level because many important decisions that affect the day-to-day lives of Florida residents are being made in Washington, D.C.

“I wanted to take my perspective, my point of view there, be part of that discussion and help make those decisions,” he said.

Some may speculate whether he would secure as much funding as Congressman C.W. Bill Young, who holds the seat.

Since the mid ’90s, Young has secured tens of millions of dollars in funding for USF and other Florida universities, said Kathy Betancourt, associate vice president of Government Relations at USF.

Susan MacManus, a political science professor at USF, said the 2010 election will be a competitive and interesting race.

She said Justice has an advantage because his county is democratic, but Young has received a lot of positive feedback during his tenure.

“One of the major accolades Young gets is that he brings a lot of money to USF. He has a history of bringing a lot of grants and things,” MacManus said. “The challenge to Justice will be to bring the same thing.”

USF spokesman Michael Hoad said that before the anthrax letter scare in 2001, Young created the USF Center for Biological Defense, which trains biological hazard responders.

Young also helped create a training program at USF that teaches nurses to deal with multiple high-level traumas in the event of an attack, Hoad said.

Young has yet to announce plans to run for re-election, said his press secretary, Harry Glenn.

“(Young) thinks campaigns are too long and does not make decisions until the election year,” Glenn said.

Justice, a USF alumnus, said he has been a strong supporter of the University even before he was an employee or held a government position.

“I want to see (USF) succeed even more in the future,” he said. “So, obviously USF could have a big fan in Washington.”

Justice served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000-06 and was elected to the state senate in 2006.

Justice’s No. 1 priority is helping improve the economy, he said, whether through consumer protection or statutory changes in budget items that could help create jobs for people in Florida.

Justice said he also plans to focus on improving education.

Hoad said it is important that USF faculty members run for political office.

“We all, as citizens, elect people to go and fight for us and to go and make sure that the best things are being done and that the Tampa Bay area and the University aren’t left out,” he said.

Hoad said voters would hope to send “(their) best friend” to Congress.

“This University’s best friend has been Young.” Hoad said. “Young is not an employee of the University, but he recognized that USF is critical to the development of the region and he has been a visionary in terms of bringing certain projects to USF.”