Kathy Castor Archives - Page 3 of 27 - Florida Politics

In Tampa, Bill Nelson calls Russia hack on DNC email server “closer to an act of war”

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson on Thursday called the Russian hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s email system an unprecedented outrage that is “closer and closer to an act of war.”

Speaking to reporters at his Tampa district office, the Florida Democrat made his most outspoken comments about the continuing to evolve story, which a new level of attention last Friday, when the Washington Post reported that the CIA had concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system.

“Not only is this an outrage, this is unprecedented. This is crossing the line, closer and closer to an act of war,” Nelson said, adding that hacking information to influence an election is damaging to the integrity of an election.

“I think there’s going to be serious ramifications of this, regardless of where you hear that different people in the intelligence community have differing opinions,” he said. “Listen: When there is a high consensus of high confidence, that’s the highest level of acceptance of intelligence. And that consensus is out of the CIA? I believe it.”

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor was also condemning the hacking into the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email server account on Thursday.

“The United States must hold Russia accountable for cyberattacks against our country, our electoral system and the private intellectual property of American businesses,” she said in a statement. “These Russian cyberattacks were not a move against any one party, they were a move against our nation and all Americans. The United States also should consider broader sanctions against the Russian government following a robust, bipartisan investigation to confirm the extent and identities of responsible individuals, including Vladimir Putin himself. “

Castor also lashed out at President-elect Trump’s laissez faire attitude towards the Russians in this story. “President-Elect Trump should reassess his knowledge and rhetoric towards Russia and be more circumspect in maintaining the dignity of the office upon which he is about to enter,” she said. “America must stand strong and not capitulate to Russia and President Putin and their often malicious ends.”

At his press conference, Nelson was asked by this reporter if any of Trump’s selections to his Cabinet gave him pause. Nelson referred to Arizona Senator John McCain’s concerns, but not his own.

“You take John McCain – he’s got some serious problems so we want to see what through the examination of the testimony to what degree does his friendship and past business dealings with Russia and Putin how would that possibly affect him in representing the national securith of this interests as Secretary of State, and I look forward to that inquiry.”

There are now at least 54 of the 232 Democratic presidential electors who are now calling on national intelligence director James Clapper to authorize a briefing ahead of the Electoral College’s meeting on Dec. 19 to elect the next president. Only one Republican — Texas’ Chris Suprun — has joined their call.

Nelson said it wasn’t going to happen, and that it shouldn’t happen.

The electors are not going to be granted access to the deepest secrets of this country,” he summarily stated on Thursday. “They’re going to have to go on and do their constitutional duty, regardless of them being able to be briefed on intelligence matters. Just to be able to receive classified information, a person has to go thru an extreme vetting process to make sure that there’s nothing in their background that would then compromise that information in the future. That’s simply not going to happen between now and next Monday.”

By only 65 votes, Luis Viera defeats Jim Davison in Tampa District 7 run-off

By just 65 votes, Luis Viera defeated Jim Davison in the Tampa City Council District 7 special run-off election, taking 50.64 percent to Davison’s 49.36 percent, a difference of only a single percentage point.

Viera received 2,588 votes to Davison’s 2,523, just 65 votes out of 5,120 cast.

The special election was held to succeed Lisa Montelione, who was re-elected without opposition to the North Tampa district seat in early 2015. Last fall, Montelione announced that she would run for the state Legislature, creating the opening for a new candidate.

Turnout for the runoff was low on Election Day, with 815 people voting. The clear majority of those who did participate voted by mail — 3,730. In four days of early voting (Thursday through Sunday), an additional 575 people cast ballots.

Viera’s victory maintains an all-Democratic Tampa City Council. If Davison had won, he would have been the first Republican on the board since Joseph Caetano, a District 7 councilmember defeated by Montelione when he ran for re-election in 2011.

Viera was endorsed by top Tampa area Democrats like Congresswoman Kathy Castor and City Council Chair Mike Suarez, a longtime friend. He also received a late endorsement from Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who said he was irked by Davison’s statement in the last week of the campaign that he would not dismiss the idea of threatening New Tampa secede from the rest of Tampa.

Although some speculated that Buckhorn would have ultimately endorsed Viera anyway, a fellow Democrat, Davison’s “Brexit”-like attitude made for a more dramatic element to the race.

A poll Friday by St. Pete Polls showed the two candidates tied at 39 percent, with 21 percent undecided. Undecideds apparently broke for Viera, if just narrowly.

For the 62-year-old Davison, this is his third loss running for office. He failed at two previous attempts for Hillsborough County Commission in 2002 and 2004.

Davison was also the co-founder of the New Tampa Transportation Task Force and has served on other transportation committees, including the Committee of ’99, which endorsed the idea of a sales tax to pay for transportation improvements.

Viera is a 38-year-old attorney with the downtown Tampa law firm of Ogden & Sullivan. He has been a member of the city of Tampa’s Civil Service Review Board since 2011.

Like Davison, Viera too is a resident of Hunter’s Green in New Tampa.

In the race, Viera raised more than four times the amount of campaign cash as Davison: $107,474 to Davison’s $25,630.

For the first round of voting Nov. 8, Davison won a plurality of votes in a six-person field. Viera came in second, behind by nearly eight percentage points (31-22 percent).

Two of the four remaining candidates – Avis Harrison and Cyril Spiro – endorsed Davison, while the other two Democrats in the contest – retired police officer Orlando Gudes and La Gaceta writer/editor Gene Siudut – opted to stay neutral.

The fact that Viera wasn’t endorsed by competitors “spoke volumes,” Davison charged at a debate in Forest Hills last week.

District 7 includes New Tampa, the University area, Terrace Park, Forest Hills and Temple Crest.

Viera will make $43,139 annually in what is considered a part-time job.

Joe Henderson: Donald Trump ‘saves’ Indiana jobs; Eric Newman asks ‘why not us?’

Eric Newman read news reports of the fight by incoming president Donald Trump to keep the Carrier air conditioning company from moving jobs to Mexico and thought, hey, why not us?

Newman owns the J.C. Newman Cigar Company in Tampa and has been fighting the Food and Drug Administration over regulations that Newman says could put his 121-year-old operation out of business.

So when this lifelong Democrat saw what Trump was doing to save jobs in Indiana, he described himself as “cautiously optimistic.”

“If President Trump is true to his word that overregulation is killing small businesses, we are the poster child for that,” Newman said. “It’s still way too early to tell if he can help us, but I feel better about it now.”

At its peak, Tampa was home to about 150 cigar-making companies, but Newman’s is the last such operation in the city. Other companies folded under increased regulatory pressure by the FDA and health concerns about tobacco use.

But, Newman has always argued that cigars are different from cigarettes and shouldn’t be held in the same category as a cancer risk.

“You go outside an office building, and you’ll see people huddled around smoking cigarettes,” he said. “You don’t see them smoking cigars. It’s not the same thing.”

You can’t blame Newman for feeling his government is out to get him, though. In addition to stringent new FDA rules that restrict the development of new product lines, Newman pointed to an executive order by President Obama that benefited Cuban cigar-makers.

The order allows travelers to bring all the Cuban cigars they want into the United States for personal consumption. Those cigars aren’t subject to the same regulations faced by Newman’s company.

“I have no problem competing with Cuban cigars on an equal footing,” Newman said. “But this exemption by President Obama gives such an advantage to the Cuban worker while screwing the American worker.

“We’re not looking for a handout. But one federal agency says cigars are bad for you, while another federal agency – in this case, the president – says it’s OK to bring in all the Cuban cigars you want. This whole thing with Cuba is just wacky.”

There have been attempts in Congress to address this issue, but despite bipartisan support from U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, they haven’t gotten anywhere.

However, as Newman pointed out, “There will be a new sheriff in town.”

The Trump administration likely will mean an overhaul at the FDA and that gives Newman hope that the added fees and testing requirements that he says drives up his cost dramatically will be reduced or eliminated.

“It is supposed to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people,” he said. “It’s not supposed to be screw the people.”

Ralph Fernandez convinced Obama policy on Cuba a major factor in Florida going red

Did President Obama’s latest executive actions regarding Cuba policy in October incite hardline exiles to vote for Donald Trump in large enough numbers to help him win Florida? That belief was pushed by some in the immediate days after the election, and is getting more life from a Hillary Clinton supporter who knows the Cuban exile community very well in the wake of Fidel Castro’s death over the weekend.

Ralph Fernandez is a lifelong Democrat who helped raise money for Clinton’s campaign in Tampa this year. He’s also an attorney who defended many who went up against Castro’s government, and he says the exile community did everything possible to make sure that Clinton didn’t win the state.

“I knew that the efforts from Tampa – Kathy Castor, the presidential announcement, the way that it was carried out – was going to create problems for Hillary in the elections, and it did, because the dinosaurs … came together as they had never done to vote for Trump, a president-elect who will do nothing for Cuba, despite what he promised,” Fernandez said on Saturday.

Obama’s rapprochement with the Castro government began in December 2014, when he announced he had reached a deal with Cuba to begin to normalize relations. Since then, embassies have reopened in both countries, the U.S. has loosened trade and travel restrictions, and Obama visited the island there in March.  His latest foray took place last month,  when he announced that he was removing limits on the import of Cuban cigars and rum. Shortly after that, he ordered U.N. Ambassador Samantha Powers to abstain from a vote condemning the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba. Whether those moves changed opinion among Cuban-Americans in Florida, the fact of the matter is that support for Trump among that demographic shifted from 33 percent in September to 52 percent just before the election, according to a New York Times/Sienna poll.

Although a virulent anti-Castro critic, Fernandez is a Democrat who backed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and raised funds for Clinton in 2016. He also used to be an ally of Castor, but their relationship was fractured after Castor returned from Cuba in 2013 and called for an end to the fifty-year plus economic embargo against the communist island.

“I told her this was only the wrong thing to do, but it was just going to piss off these old Cubans in Miami that were out to pasture already and may have found that it was too hot or too inconvenient to go out that day, too difficult to read through the lengthy ballot and so forth, and it would just decrease the numbers, and decrease the interest,” Fernandez says.

While public opinion polls have shown a generational divide on the president’s moves towards Cuba (and general support overall for the policy change), the older generation of the Cuban-American community in Florida are in many cases single-issue voters regarding Cuba, Fernandez says. “They were constantly being confronted by the issue of the consulate and this and that, and so it just upset them so that their numbers were astronomic.” But he believes that many of those Cuban exile voters who supported Trump will  be solely disappointed by what they end up getting, and says it should have been just as upsetting that the president-elect was attempting to do business in Cuba as well, as alleged by Newsweek and Bloomberg.

“I told many of my friends, ‘can you believe that you are going to support the guy who was trying to do business in Cuba when I was representing the shoot down of the Brothers to The Rescuewhen I spent 1,000 hours on the skyjacking case or when I represented Rene Cruz in the California case with the two other defendants out there, while I was dedicating my life and and thousand of hours pro bono, and I’m nearly a million dollars out of my pocket defending these causes, and we were adamant about anybody violating the Trading with the Enemy Act going to prison, and now this you’re overlooking this?” Fernandez said with exasperation.

He said those same friends didn’t want to hear about that, and instead would shift the conversation about how President Obama had offended them and they were concerned about a Cuban consulate coming to Tampa. “And that’s all you heard in that community,” he says.

Not everyone agrees with Fernandez theory.

A week after the election results, Cuban American communication strategist Giancarlo Sopo’s wrote up an analysis of the Cuban American vote in Florida, and concluded that it was “fiction” to conclude that Obama’s Cuban policy cost Clinton Florida in the election.

In Tampa, agreement that Fidel Castro was one of a kind

There was no harsher a critic of the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba than Ralph Fernandez. Yet the Tampa attorney who represented several former political prisoners in Cuba over the past several decades says that nobody ever challenged the U.S. government as the longtime Cuban leader, who died Friday at the age of 90.

“The guy stood up to America like no one could. He represented a shrimp of a country, just a dot on the map, and he was just in our face, and he became the advocate for an entire Third World,” Fernandez said Saturday morning. “We have to acknowledge that he was the most eloquent, articulate speaker of the Spanish language of all time. He was brilliant. He was evil. He was one of a kind.”

But Fernandez also compares Castro to some of the evilest men who ever walked the earth.

“It’s great news, but it’s way late. Now he’s gone off to spend time with his friends: Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Pol Pot and the rest of the gang, if there’s a hell, he should be there for eternity.”

There is no official registry of the number of victims who were killed during Castro’s reign in power, which lasted from 1959 until he stepped down as president in 2006 because of health issues, ceding power to his brother Raul. An analysis performed by necrometrics.com put it between 5,000-12,000 executions. Fernandez claims it was 30,000, with another 200,000 imprisoned over the years on human rights violations, and “a third” of the population leaving the island to become exiles.

Al Fox is perhaps the best-known advocate in Tampa for advocating for opening relations with the Cuban government. Since creating the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation in 2001, he’s taken more than 100 trips to the Communist island, and he is fierce in criticizing those who deride Castro’s Cuba as a wasteland for its people.

“He took a country that 70 percent of all the land was owned by foreigners, and he gave it to the people,” Fox said. “And he took a country where only the elite were educated, and only the elite had proper medical care, and today you have a country of 11.5 million, and the people of Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras — they all wish they could live like a Cuban lives, but the perception out there is the complete opposite.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been a steadfast critic of the Castro regime, and has refused to join the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Tampa City Council and others who have been calling for a Cuban consulate to be located in Tampa after the breakthrough in diplomatic relations set forth by President Barack Obama in December 2014. In a statement, he said that generations of Cubans have helped build Tampa.

“Many arrived in our City fleeing the totalitarian policies of the Castro government with nothing more that the shirts on their backs and a yearning for freedom,” Buckhorn said. “They have never strayed from the belief that one day Cuba would again be free. The passing of Fidel Castro offers hope that one day the Cuban people will enjoy the benefits of a free and democratic society.”

No Florida lawmaker was more than Marco Rubio, who called Castro an “evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people” and turned Cuba into an “impoverished island prison.”

Although there was cheering in Miami overnight about the news, the mood was more downcast in Havana, according to CNN. Fox says that despite what others say, there are many Cuban people supportive of Castro to this day.

“He is revered in Cuba,” Fox says. “When Saddam Hussein was toppled, the people went dancing in the street, OK? You watch what’s going to happen in Cuba (referring his funeral next week). He was an absolutely revered, but the perception is that he was hated.”

Tampa-area Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor, who after traveling to Cuba in 2013 became the first Florida lawmaker to call for the end of the U.S. imposed sanctions on the Cuban government, said that she fears that Donald Trump will reverse the diplomatic measures that Obama has implemented over the past couple of years.

“Slamming the door shut at this point in time would be disastrous,” she said.” Instead, Fidel Castro’s death should encourage all of us to meet the challenge of better diplomatic relations, economic opportunities for Cubans and Americans, expanded travel, and support for the dignity of the Cuban people.”

On that point, both Fernandez and Fox agree that they do not see Trump reversing much of what Obama has done.

“There will be no wall, Obamacare will not be repealed in toto, and there will be no aggressive positioning in terms of the Cuba situation,” predicts Fernandez. “That genie’s out the bottle,” adds Fox.

Mitch Perry Report for 11.22.16 — The sad story of Chris Christie

There’s no doubt Rudy Giuliani will get some meaty position in the upcoming Donald Trump administration, because the dude was loyal as hell to the president-elect throughout the past year.

Chris Christie, on the other hand, may be looking at bupkes.

The New Jersey governor was one of the first mainstream Republicans to endorse Trump, which he did after he flamed out in the New Hampshire primary. Since that time, reporters have had a field day blasting the one-time fierce (bullying?) New Jerseyite for being a “manservant” to Trump (there even was an unfortunate rumor that Trump had summoned Christie to fetch him McDonalds).

But things have gone downhill for awhile for Christie in terms of where he’s at with the new leader of the free world. Sure there’s been tension forever between him and Jared Kushner, going back to Christie’s days as a federal prosecutor in the aughts sending Kushner’s pop to prison on charges of tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions, but there also were multiple media reports last month that Trump was not pleased to learn what was unearthed during the Bridgegate trial that saw Bridget Kelly, his former chief of staff, be convicted in federal court for her involvement in the scandal, which could send her to prison for 20 years.

And then there was this, from today’s NY Times:

Mr. Christie’s fall in the Trump circle was weeks in the making. There was already grumbling, particularly from former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, and from Mr. Trump’s children. Mr. Christie, they believed, had gone off-message after an “Access Hollywood” tape was released in which Mr. Trump made vulgar comments about women; the governor first canceled Sunday show appearances, then emerged on the radio the next week to call Mr. Trump’s comments “indefensible.”

No, in that crucial time for Donald Trump, Chris Christie wasn’t the loyal foot soldier Trump apparently demands. If you’ll recall, Giuliani was the only surrogate from the Trump campaign to make the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows less than 48 hours after that story went viral on Oct. 9. Even Kellyanne Conway was MIA from the airwaves that weekend.

But in the case of Christie, maybe, just maybe, he couldn’t look himself in the mirror (or his wife and kids) and try to some how spin anything positive about those stunning remarks, dismissed as “locker room talk” by Trump and his allies.

Team Trump apparently wasn’t too pleased with Christie’s work on the transition pre-Election Day, as many members of that squad were former lobbyists — not the way to start out a new administration from someone who called for “draining the swamp.”

There was also a report of Christie trying to nudge his way into the picture frame when Trump gave his speech after winning the general election, when reportedly he hadn’t been seen helping the campaign for weeks.

So all of that is to say that Christie may not get anything from Trump as he goes about naming his Cabinet. A tragedy? Not really, but still sort of ugly to watch it all play out.

In other news …

Kathy Castor says she will work with President Donald Trump and the GOP Congress if the opportunity presents itself. She’s also mum on whether she’ll vote to retain Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader.

Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg was in Gitmo last week to attend a hearing one of the suspects being held at the U.S. prison in Cuba. He added that the man’s trial is not scheduled for another three years.

And your Florida Legislature is in Tallahassee today — all 160 of them elected earlier this month — if not earlier during the primary season.

Jim Davison blasts the Tampa Bay Times and his opponent in next month’s Tampa City Council District 7 election for its recommendation of Luis Viera.

And Tampa will play host to the National League of Cities annual convention  in 2020.

Kathy Castor says she’ll work with Donald Trump and GOP majority in Congress ‘if there’s an opportunity’

Kathy Castor says the voters in Florida’s 14th Congressional District re-elected her to get things done in Washington and, when she can, she’ll work with the Donald Trump administration and GOP Congress. But she’ll also resist them, depending on what policies they propose.

“People elected me to solve problems and if there’s any opportunity to do that with President Trump and a Republican Congress, that’s what I’m going to do,” she said Monday. “But I’m not going to compromise the values that this community holds dear. Whether that’s taking our Dream Act students and not deporting them, or fighting for higher wages, the Democratic Party is the party of working people and I’m going to continue to stand up for their interests against the system.”

Yet despite that perception, Hillary Clinton’s failure to win rust-belt states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan in the election has led to the accepted perception the Democrats have lost their way with working people.

In Boston on Sunday night, Bernie Sanders said the party has to return its focus to the working class.

“The working class of this country is being decimated — that’s why Donald Trump won,” Sanders said. “And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people, who understand that real median family income has gone down.”

“All I know is that every week when I’m in Washington D.C. we’re standing up to moneyed special interests and for some reason that’s not being communicated,” Castor says. “For example, they want to give massive tax breaks to big corporations and the top one percent. That’s not going to help working class people or working people, and what I’m afraid is that the Congress that has passed draconian budgets and tried to keep all the benefits for the wealthiest in the country, that they kind of play on Trump and take advantage of him and the people who elected him. We’re going to be pointing these things out.”

Next week Castor and her Democratic colleagues will vote on whether to retain Nancy Pelosi as their leader, or go in a different direction. Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan has announced his candidacy to challenge Pelosi, the 76-year-old San Francisco congresswoman who leads the Democrats in the House of Representatives.

Castor said she is undecided, but said there’s value in having a female leader.

“The party needs different leaders,” she acknowledges. “It’s time for a younger generation of leaders to run for local office, to get involved in local issues and state issues. But there is one consideration about who is going to be in leadership in Washington. President Trump, Chuck Schumer, Sen. McConnell, Paul Ryan. What do they have all have in common?”

She then answered her own question. “There is a lot of value in having a female leader,” before insisting that she hasn’t made a final decision on who should lead the caucus.

Speaking in Peru Sunday, President Obama said he was reticent to “meddle” in party votes while still in office, but went on to say that he “cannot speak highly enough” of the woman who a decade ago became the first female House speaker. “She combines strong progressive values with just extraordinary political skill, and she does stuff that’s tough, not just stuff that’s easy,” Obama said of Pelosi.

 

House approves Kathy Castor bill promoting concrete masonry, manufacturing jobs

The U.S. House passed a bill sponsored by Democratic Florida Rep. Kathy Castor Wednesday that would boost construction jobs and help develop better building materials.

“Local manufacturers and many across Florida worked diligently with me to boost jobs in the concrete masonry industry through this legislation. If signed into law, businesses will have the ability to pool resources for research and to develop safer, more durable, and more efficient products which would be a boon for building construction,” Castor said. “This bill supports an industry made up of primarily small, local businesses that create local jobs in the competitive construction market.”

The House voted 355-38 in favor of Castor’s bill, which she called a “win for jobs and our local manufacturers. The bill would put a one penny assessment on all concrete blocks sold, to fund research, education, and promotional programs for concrete manufacturers.

“Buildings made of structurally strong materials, such as concrete block, are vital to reduce the impacts of property insurance losses as the climate changes and Florida experiences more extreme weather events,” the CD 14 Democrat said. “Producers also will be able to develop durable, energy-efficient and affordable products that are better able to withstand volatile weather conditions in their particular regions, such as seismic events in the West or extreme weather in the Southeast.”

The bill now moves on to the U.S. Senate.

Pat Kemp defeats Tim Schock in Hillsborough County District 6

Democrat Pat Kemp defeated challenger Tim Shock for the Hillsborough County Commission District 6 seat.

Kemp had 55 percent of the vote for a solid victory.

Voters had two strong choices in this countywide race.

Kemp, who narrowly lost to Republican Al Higginbotham in 2014, had transportation as her main issue. She has long been a vocal advocate for solutions to the area’s top long-term issue that goes beyond adding new roads.

She advocates stronger growth management policies to help control urban sprawl, which contributes to transportation problems.

Kemp also has been a voice for transparency in government and diversity. She is a former aide to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and the former chair of the Hillsborough Democratic Party.

Schock, a small-business owner who has never held elective office, soundly defeated veteran Jim Norman in the primary. He, too, listed transportation as a major issue.

“It’s a quality of life issue. It’s about getting to work on time, getting home on time, being with our loved ones on time. That’s really what this is about,” Shock said in a video posted on his website.

“The goal for our transportation system has to be free-flow mobility, the ability to move people efficiently and effectively around our county — and in doing so, reduce our overall traffic congestion. It’s becoming a bigger and bigger problem, and it’s something we can no longer ignore.”

Schock advocated a regional solution for transportation, especially in the Hillsborough suburbs.

Kathy Castor, Dennis Ross returning to Congress

In a pair of results that could not be called surprising, Democrat Kathy Castor and Republican Dennis Ross won re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Castor took about 61 percent of the vote in her race, while Ross took 58 percent.

Neither race was expected to be closely contended.

Castor, a liberal Democrat who was facing political newcomer Christine Quinn in the race for Florida’s 14th Congressional District, will be starting her sixth term in Congress.

Ross faced Democrat Jim Lange for the right to represent CD 15, covering parts of Polk and Hillsborough counties. It was a mismatch. Ross raised more than $1.1 million to about $35,000 for his opponent. Ross will be returning to Congress for a fourth term.

He is a senior deputy whip for the Republican leadership.

Castor was first elected in 2007 after serving four years on the Hillsborough County Commission. She has been a champion for health care, LGBT rights, women’s issues, and the normalization of relations with Cuba.

She also worked to secure funding for the I-4 connector road with the Selmon Expressway in Tampa.

In October, she announced a $6 million grant to Hillsborough Community College to boost STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities for Hispanic students.

Ross, a Lakeland native whose district covers Polk County, was first elected to Congress in 2010 after two terms in the Florida House.

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