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Scott won't take sides in Republican primary for Young's seat

Gov. Rick Scott shared a stage in Clearwater Wednesday and introduced state Rep. Kathleen Peters, the first-term lawmaker who's seeking the Pinellas seat in Congress vacated by the death of C.W. Bill Young.

"Governor, I love it when you come to Pinellas County because it's always about jobs," Peters said.

It might have been an ideal moment for Scott to endorse Peters, but  the governor definitely does not plan to take sides in a contested GOP primary.

"Look, there's a primary, and I'm sure it will be an interesting primary, like mine was," Scott said in an interview. "We'll see what happens down the road."

Three years ago, Scott ran in a party primary and defeated then-Attorney General Bill McCollum, who had the support of the Republican Party establishment. Scott knows what it's like to run in a Republican primary and not be the anointed one.  

Peters was one of three Pinellas lawmakers who joined Scott at a groundbreaking ceremony for PODS Enterprises, a moving and srorage business that announced it will add 40 full-time jobs over the next three years in a new corporate headquarters on Feather Sound Drive. Sen. Jack Latvala and Rep. Ed Hooper also attended.

The company, founded by two local firefighters in 1999 and now headed by CEO John Koch, has grown rapidly and now has corporate offices or franchises in 48 states.

As Scott left the event, he gave Peters a hug and said, "Good luck." "Thanks," Peters replied. "I'll need it."

Peters faces David Jolly, Young's long-time former counsel, and Mark Bircher, a retired brigadier general in the Marine Corps Reserve. The winner of the Republican primary on Jan. 14 will face Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11, 2014 general election.   

-- Steve Bousquet