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Statewide labor union backs David Straz for mayor

“We believe David will fight for the hard working families in Tampa.”

The Florida State Building and Construction Trades Council is endorsing David Straz for mayor of Tampa, the group announced Friday. The statewide council represents about 100 labor unions and more than 100,000 workers across the state.

“We believe David will fight for the hard working families in Tampa and give us a fair chance at the table,” said Theresa King, president of the Florida State Building and Construction Trades Council. “We also like his interest in our apprenticeship programs and his track record for creating jobs.”

The group said they also chose Straz because he is “a man of integrity.”

Straz had previously been endorsed by the Gulf Coast chapter of the Building and Construction Trades Council. That group met with leaders of other local chapters throughout the state recommending they too endorse Straz. Those leaders makeup the executive board of the statewide group and unanimously voted to also back Straz.

Leaders from chapters all over the state weighed in with support. Jason Smith, the political director for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Tampa said he supported Straz based on his commitment to gradually increase the minimum wage for city workers and contractors to $15 an hour.

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Other union leaders said they liked Straz because he was “not using the mayor’s office as a stepping stone to higher office.”

The labor endorsements are an important tool for the campaign to mitigate potential concerns among voters that Straz is an independently wealthy candidate financing his own campaign. Straz has put about $1.6 million of his own money into the campaign.

That unions representing middle-class workers are backing him helps shed that stigma.

Straz is currently polling in second in the seven-way race to replace Bob Buckhorn. If he manages to stay in that spot in the March 5 election he’d advance to a runoff April 23.

The top spot is likely to go to former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor who is polling at 45 percent in the race.

Other candidates include, in order of polling performance, Dick Greco Jr., Harry Cohen, Ed Turanchik, Mike Suarez and Topher Morrison.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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