Charlie Justice, St. Petersburg
At 34, Charlie Justice has already served two terms in the Florida House of Representatives and is currently the Democratic whip. But the House is an anonymous kind of place for a politician. Justice is going to find out just how anonymous as he runs for the Florida Senate in 2006 in a district that covers South Tampa, Feather Sound, most of St. Petersburg, Safety Harbor, Oldsmar and Keystone/Odessa.
A USF academic advisor, Justice wants to turn Jim Sebesta's Republican Senate District 16 into a Democratic win. He points out that the district's party registration is actually closer than most imagine: 41 percent Republican, 39 percent Democrat, 20 percent Independent/Other. "This Senate seat is the true definition of a swing seat," Justice said. "I don't think an extremist on either side can win."
While he's right about the numbers, the district performs strongly Republican; the Brothers Bush have not lost a race in this district, including Jeb's unsuccessful 1994 campaign against Lawton Chiles. Justice has an uphill climb. Fellow House members Frank Farkas and Kim Berfield are already running in the Republican primary.
New Faces is an occasional series about the next generation of Tampa Bay's political leadership.