Kathy Castor Archives - Page 7 of 31 - Florida Politics

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.

Mitch Perry Report for 11.4.16 — What will be this year’s decisive October surprise?

It was the Thursday night before the 2000 general election when Fox News’s Carl Cameron reported George W. Bush had been arrested in 1976 in Maine on a DWI case. It was definitely an “October surprise,” and it definitely seemed to stop Bush’s momentum in that contest — a contest in which he ultimately lost the popular vote, but took the Electoral College after a 36-day recount.

On the Friday night before the 2004 election, the late Osama bin Laden released a tape, aired by the Arab television network Al-Jazeera, where he spoke directly to the American people. He admitted for the first time that he carried out the Sept. 11 attacks and said the attacks would have been less severe if Bush had been more alert. John Kerry later said he believed that tape cost him the election against Bush.

The big news that could affect this year’s election appeared to have happened last Friday afternoon at approximately 1 p.m. Eastern, when Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz tweeted , “FBI Dir just informed me, The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.” Case reopened.”

Whether that announcement is the ultimate game-changer preventing Hillary Clinton from winning the general election remains to be seen. “Big Mo,” however, doesn’t seem like it’s with the Democrat this morning, as she’s now resorted to spending considerable time on the stump disparaging her opponent, when less than two weeks ago she said she was done talking about him.

Then again, the ultimate October surprise may end up being the revelation first reported at approximately 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, when The Washington Post reported on and posted a video of Donald Trump making lewd comments about women on tape from 2005.

Depending on who is announced as the victory late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, one of the two above listed events will need to be placed prominently on the epitaph of the losing candidate.

Unless something else pops this weekend, which couldn’t possibly happen. Could it?

In other news …

Making his final pitch in the HD 63 race, Shawn Harrison slams Lisa Montelione’s attendance record on the Tampa City Council, as well as her votes on the city’s budget and raising parking fees.

Tampa City Council members Charlie Miranda and Mike Suarez say, as children of immigrants, they reject Donald Trump’s divisive language on the subject.

CD 14 Republican candidate Christine Quinn is hyping her endorsement from a veterans group in her race against Kathy Castor.

Charlie Crist added $5,500 to his campaign account Wednesday.

And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is airing radio ads in St. Petersburg this weekend featuring Barack and Michelle Obama to try to drive up the black vote for Crist.

Veterans group backs Christine Quinn over Kathy Castor in CD 14 race

Christine Quinn, the Republican running against Democratic incumbent Kathy Castor in Florida’s 14th Congressional District next week, has received an endorsement from a veteran’s nonprofit group criticizing Castor for not being responsive to their previous outreach. However, the group itself has been labeled by the Tampa Bay Times as one of the worst charitable organizations in the country.

“In 20 years of making endorsements for federal office, rarely has the Center for American Homeless Veterans found such a decisive and compelling case for the endorsement of a federal candidate,” said Brian Hampton, the president of the Center for American Homeless Veterans (CAHV) in announcing its support for Quinn. “CAHV gives its absolute and emphatic endorsement to Christine Quinn to be elected to the Congress, where voters can be assured that she will be a stalwart champion for American veterans.”

The Center for American Homeless Veterans is an advocacy organization (a nonprofit 501 (c)(4)) that educates the public about homeless veterans and creates awareness of solutions to this problem. They publish, print, and distribute The Veteran’s Vision and they outreach to Congress regarding the needs of homeless veterans.

It also does business as American Homeless and Disabled Veterans (AHDV), and also goes under the Association for Homeless and Disabled Veterans.

In his statement, Hampton criticized Congresswoman Castor’s office for ignoring his entreaties.

“During the spring and summer of 2016, CAHV contacted the leadership of incumbent Congresswoman Kathy Castor’s campaign four times, making phone calls, asking for the candidate’s platform on American veterans, and inviting her to affirm the Veterans’ Bill of Rights (VBOR).

“The opponent’s campaign manager could not be bothered; they did not respond, and they did not take calls after plenty of details were provided. The leadership and mentality of a campaign come from the top. Based on the evidence, the documented and clear conclusion is that Kathy Castor is unresponsive for American veterans.”

In 2014, the Tampa Bay Times listed the group in its report on America’s worst charities, claiming that their charity tax filing in 2010 was for less than $3,000.

Castor is predicted to defeat Quinn in next week’s election. Although redistricting has made it less Democratic leaning, it’s still considered a very safe seat for the Democrats.

A call to Castor’s campaign office was not immediately returned on Thursday.

Congressman, civil rights icon John Lewis: Vote, vote, vote

Charlie Crist
Charlie Crist

Civil rights icon John Lewis, now a congressman from Georgia, came to St. Petersburg on Wednesday to support former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Crist, a Democrat, is running against Republican incumbent David Jolly for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Lewis, who has represented Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since 1986, said he had followed Crist’s career.

“I’m delighted and very pleased and honored to be standing here with you,” Lewis told Crist. “I’m here to support you. I’m looking forward to getting things done.”

Lewis said Crist could help make things better not only for the CD 13, but also the state of Florida and the U.S.

Crist said he was “grateful beyond words” for Lewis’ support. If elected, he said, he looked forward to working with Lewis.

The two spoke at a press conference outside the Greater Mount Zion AME Church, 1045 16th St. S. The two had been part of a meeting and prayer inside the church before speaking. Others who joined them included former St. Petersburg Council Member Wengay Newton, who is running for state House District 70, and Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor was unable to attend but sent a representative from her office.

Lewis was not in town only to support Crist. He also urged residents to get out and “vote, vote, vote.”

A vote “is powerful,” Lewis said. He added, “I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma for the right to vote.”

Lewis was referring to an incident on March 7, 1965, that has become known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Lewis and Hosea Williams, another civil rights advocate, had planned to lead 600 peaceful, orderly protestors in a march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in Alabama. They got as far as the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma when state troopers and local police blocked the way and demanded they turn around. When they refused, they were tear gassed and beaten with billy clubs.

A successful march was held later that month with federal protection. And, that August, the Voting Rights Act was passed.

Lewis was also scheduled to appear at the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus to discuss civil rights. Later, he was scheduled to tour Jordan Park.

Early voting in Pinellas ends Sunday. Election Day is Tuesday.

Former St. Pete Rep. Rudy Bradley stars in David Jolly’s latest ad

David Jolly again revives Charlie Crist‘s visit to a prison in Alabama where he observed a literal prison chain gang in 1995 in a new running on television and on the internet.

The ad, called “See How it Feels,” stars former St. Petersburg Democrat-turned-Republican state lawmaker Rudy Bradley, who looks sternly into the camera and says the incident is personal to him, “because he forced my brother-in-law, Harry K. Singletary, to watch.”

Singletary was selected as Florida’s Secretary of the Department of Corrections by then-Gov. Lawton Chiles. He accompanied Crist to Limestone Correctional Institution in Alabama in June of 1995 to see how that state ran its chain gang program, a legislative interest of then-state Sen. Crist at the time.

“Harry felt sick because Crist felt joy in black men being humiliated,” Bradley says in the ad. A graphic flashes on the screen with a quote that “Singletary was visibly sickened,” citing a Sunshine State News story from 2014 written by columnist Nancy Smith.

Bradley served in the Florida House from 1994-2000. He was initially elected as a Democrat, but then switched parties and became a Republican.

This is the second digital ad Jolly has aired referring to the incident, which Jolly first brought to the campaign during the first debate between the two candidates in September.

Crist has responded he supported chain gangs because of the high crime rate in Florida. When confronted by Jolly in that debate, Crist pivoted and attempted to put Jolly on the defensive, saying the notion his tough-on-crime stance had anything to do with race was simply “appalling.”

Florida’s 13th Congressional District was redistricted last year, making it much more Democratic-friendly, in large part because of the inclusion of parts of St. Petersburg GOP lawmakers had previously carved out and left for Congressional District 14 Democrat Kathy Castor to inherit from across Tampa Bay. The Florida Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the district should no longer cross the water, making it more compact.

Polls have been all over the place in the race, but there’s no doubt that Jolly needs to sway a certain percentage of Democrats to switch over and vote for him to allow him to retain the seat. The revival of the “Chain-Gang Charlie” persona of the mid 1990s is part of that strategy.

Watch the video below:




Realtors back David Singer in HD 60 race

The Greater Tampa Realtors unveiled their list of endorsements in the upcoming election on Tuesday, and one of their most provocative selections is choosing Democrat David Singer over Republican Jackie Toledo in the House District 60 campaign.

The Realtors made 20 selections in all: 10 Republicans, six Democrats, and four candidates running in nonpartisan races.

All of the Democrats, except one, the Realtors are backing are incumbents or, in some cases, running in open seats where they are heavily favored: CD 14 Rep. Kathy Castor, SD 19 Senate candidate Darryl Rouson, Hillsborough Clerk of the Court Pat Frank, Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez, and HD 70 Representative candidate Wengay Newton.

The exception is Singer, the Tampa land-use attorney who is an extremely competitive battle against engineer Jackie Toledo for the Hillsborough County House District 60 race. Toledo narrowly defeated businesswoman Rebecca Smith in the GOP primary back in August.

In a press release, the Realtors say the candidates endorsed have been selected based on their position on issues, “particularly those affecting real estate and private property rights.”

The full list of endorsed candidates is listed below:

  • Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator
  • Gus Bilirakis, U.S. Representative, District 12
  • Kathy Castor, U.S. Representative, District 14
  • Dennis Ross, U.S. Representative, District 15
  • Vern Buchanan, U.S. Representative, District 16
  • Dana Young, Florida Senate, District 18
  • Darryl Rouson, Florida Senate, District 19
  • Daniel Raulerson, State Representative, District 58
  • Ross Spano, State Representative, District 59
  • David Singer, State Representative, District 60
  • Shawn Harrison, State Representative, District 63
  • Wengay “Newt” Newton, State Representative, District 70
  • Mark Ober, State Attorney, Circuit 13
  • Pat Frank, Hillsborough County Clerk of Circuit Court
  • Bob Henriquez, Hillsborough County Property Appraiser
  • Sandra Murman, Hillsborough County Commissioner, District 1
  • Melissa Polo, Circuit Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit Group 24
  • Joe Jordon-Robinson, Hillsborough County School Board, District 5
  • Lynn Gray, Hillsborough County School Board, District 7
  • Frank Chillura, Temple Terrace City Council

As early voting begins, Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver praises Florida’s system

Early voting commenced in Hillsborough County (and 49 other counties in Florida) on Monday, and by the end of the day, 18,887 voters had turned up at the polls, according to Supervisor of Elections Craig Lattimer.

On Tuesday, USA Today reported Hillsborough County is one of the premier bellwether areas of the country when it comes to electing a president. Hillsborough has picked the winner in 19 of the last 20 presidential elections, and the Hillary Clinton campaign is pulling out all the stops this week to highlight the beginning of early voting. Actress Angela Bassett and actor Josh Gad held events today, and on Monday, Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver made his way to Tampa, where he said he was envious of Florida’s approach to elections.

“I hope people in Florida realize how fortunate they are that they have early voting,” Cleaver said while appearing with Tampa Rep. Kathy Castor at the College Hill Library in East Tampa. “I think early voting is an indication that there are people in Florida who believe that maximizing democracy is getting as many people out to vote as possible. In Missouri, we are not quite that enlightened.”

In fact, the “Show Me State” is in the minority of just 13 states around the country that don’t offer early voting.

Missouri used to have the reputation as a so-called bellwether during presidential elections, but that hasn’t been the case over the past couple of elections, when the state when red while the nation chose Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. However, while Missouri was considered relatively safe for the GOP going into this year, Cleaver says it has now suddenly become competitive because of the U.S. Senate race between GOP incumbent Roy Blount and Democratic hopeful Jason Kander (though the RealClearPolitics average right now still shows Donald Trump with a seven-point margin in Mizzou).

Although national and state polls vary, Democrats are increasingly optimistic the election results will be favorable to their cause, causing Castor and Cleaver to hope that the divisions in Congress can be swept away to begin getting matters accomplished for the American people.

“That’s what we’re going to have to do after this election,” Castor said on Monday. “We’ve got significant issues, boosting the economy, cutting student loan debt, what’s going on all across the world with terrorism. We’ve got to keep America safe, and these are going to be the kind of problems that will require everybody coming together to tackle.”

“Democracy demands compromise. That is the only way it’s going to work, so I hope that the Republicans will work with Hillary Clinton, because she’s probably going to be one of the easiest individuals that we’ve had in the Oval Office in a long time,” said Cleaver, who supported Clinton over Obama in 2008. “It’s almost treasonous not to do things that we need. We need a highway bill, we need desperately tax reform, all kinds of things that we need to do in the best interests of the American public. And to say I’m not going to work with a human being for some puny, political reason? It’s treasonous.”

Cleaver believes Obama never had a chance with congressional Republicans after his victory in 2008. “There was no way that the Republicans were going to work with Barack Obama,” he says. “They had made up their minds before the swearing in that they were not going to work with him.”

Cleaver also dismissed any allegations there could be fraud at the election polls on Nov. 8, as frequently cited by Trump. “We’re embarrassed that this movement that is going around the country actually is an attempt to stop people from voting,” he said.

The St. Louis-Post Dispatch did report Monday that prosecutors in St. Louis County, Missouri are investigating vote fraud allegations, specifically whether the mayor and his supporters illegally interfered with the absentee ballot process.

Joining Castor and Emanuel was Hillsborough Clerk of the Courts Pat Frank, also on the ballot next month against Republican Eric Seidel.

“That is absolutely absurd,” she charges. “Let me tell you; in Hillsborough County, we have electronic machines, but we have a paper trail. There is a backup to the electronics, and most of the counties in Florida went in that direction when they started to remove their old machines. So you can always determine what the vote was by an accurate count of the paper. And other states have adopted the same measure, so you’d have to have a gigantic corruption scheme in place, which is impossible in this country.”


Marco Rubio decries new FDA cigar regulations while visiting Tampa factory

Marco Rubio‘s re-election campaign brought him to a 13o-year-old cigar factory in Tampa Wednesday, where he blasted proposed federal rules which could severely harm it and other cigar manufacturers in the U.S.

A recent FDA ruling initially intended to regulate smokeless tobacco products, but summarily expanded to include cigars, would compel manufacturers like the J.C. Newman Company to go through a rigorous and costly application before any new product could go on the market. Officials said the imposed verification process would radically slow the rate of new cigars going on shelves as well as the number of new cigars in general.

“This is one more added cost to production. It’s going to put these companies unfortunately out of business,” said Rubio, who received a tour of the factory before addressing the media. “When you tell any company you can no longer offer new products, without going through a very expensive process, any industry … I don’t care what you sell … you’re going to struggle to survive, especially facing unfair foreign competition.”

Eric Newman, president of the 130-year-old J.C. Newman Company located in Tampa’s V.M. Ybor section, calls the new proposal “draconian,” and said it would cost his company $2.5 million in compliance costs to fully implement.

Rubio and his U.S. Senate colleague from Florida, Democrat Bill Nelson, initially introduced legislation called the “Traditional Cigar Manufacturing & Small Business Jobs Preservation Act” in 2011, which would remove the FDA’s jurisdiction over the premium cigar industry by amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor filed similar legislation in the House. They’ve introduced similar bills in the 2013 and 2015 sessions, to no avail. Rubio said that he and Nelson would again push for that bill’s passage before the end of the year.

Rubio was joined by Tampa state House District 60 Republican Dana Young, who, like Rubio, is on the ballot next month, where she is running for the Senate District 18 seat.

“This is a classic example of how in a bipartisan way, at the state and federal level, we can work together and try to stop both regulations of small businesses like this one and needless red tape involved with lumping in one product that is part of our culture with others that cause harm to the public,” she said.

Adding insult to injury, both Newman and Rubio said, was President Obama’s announcement last Friday that it is eliminating a $100 limit on the value of Cuban rum and cigars that American travelers can bring back from the island. Travelers can now purchase unlimited quantities of Cuban cigars in any country where they are sold but they can only be for personal use and cannot be sold.

“We love the competition,” insisted Newman, but said it wouldn’t be a fair fight between his cigars and the ones imported from Cuba, since they won’t be required to do the compliance costs the FDA requires of American cigar manufacturers.

“At a time when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton talk about bringing back American manufacturing jobs … the American government wants to shut us down, ” Newman said. “We’re horrified by that.”

Rubio also fielded questions on his Senate campaign, where the polls have suddenly tightened with Democrat Patrick Murphy with less than three weeks to go before Election Day.

“You don’t win in Florida in a presidential year as a Republican by 10 points. Or even by five points,” he said. “It is becoming the race I knew it would, which is a close race.” He then spent several moments listing what he said were his achievements in the Senate in the past six years.

Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards to USF students: Millennials will decide this election

Cecile Richards paid a visit to the University of South Florida campus Monday, where she told an audience consisting of mostly female students, that people like themselves — especially those living in Florida’s Interstate 4 corridor — will help decide the presidential election next month.

“Millennial voters are going to determine who the next president is,” said Richards, who has been president of Planned Parenthood for the past decade. “And the millennial voters who are going to matter the most are the ones here in Florida.”

Richards is an unabashed supporter of Hillary Clinton, and she made the trip to USF to advocate that students make sure to try to get as many people registered as possible before the deadline, which was extended by a judge to Wednesday.

“Your votes are disproportionately important,” Richards said, referring to the power of the I-4 corridor, and the fact that unlike so many other college campuses where she visits in non-battleground states, the students sitting before her on Monday “actually have an opportunity to make a difference.”

Richards rejected Donald Trump’s description of his lewd remarks from 2005 that were made public at the debate as “locker-room talk,” saying it was flat-out “sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

“It’s little too late to be appalled by what Donald Trump is saying,” she continued. “He has gone after Muslims in this country, immigrants in this county, Mexicans, women. It’s time to stand up and say this is not who we are. We’re better than this.”

Richards is also a big fan of Barack Obama, who she said history ultimately will consider one of America’s greatest presidents. She offered big praise for his selection of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, and applauded passage of the Affordable Care Act, the president’s signature domestic achievement that seems to be garnering more negative headlines these days.

Richards celebrated three separate provisions of the ACA which she said were incredibly important: 1) the provision that allows people to stay under their parents’ health care coverage until 26, 2) the end of gender discrimination in health care premiums, and  3) that maternity care is now included.

Joining Richards in speaking to the group of approximately 50 students who crammed into a conference room at the Marshall Center was Hillsborough County Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor. She complained congressional Republicans have been “sidelining” Democrats from addressing issues like immigration and student debt or jobs to instead attack Planned Parenthood.

In February, the House of Representatives failed to override President Obama’s veto of a bill that would have denied Planned Parenthood funding from Medicaid. A congressional panel was convened in 2015 after videos from a pro-life group called the Center for Medical Progress appeared to show Planned Parenthood officials selling human body parts. That case ultimately went to court in Texas, but a Houston grand jury did not charge the abortion provider with any wrongdoing, and instead indicted one of the activists, David Daleiden, with offering to purchase human organs from the group.

“This is not what we should be doing in Washington D.C.,” Castor charged regarding the votes to defund the organization.

Although the event was designed around ginning up support for Clinton, not everyone in the audience was signing on to the program.

Rachel Piotrowski, a 22-year-old graduate student in public health and Bernie Sanders supporter, says she may write in the Vermont senator for president.

“I don’t find her relatable or honest,” Piotrowski said on why she couldn’t get behind Clinton. “I just think she’ll say anything when the time is right and it’s politically advantageous for her to say so.”

She did say she’s concerned about how a Trump presidency could lead to Supreme Court justices who could overturn Roe v. Wade, but said regardless of who’s president, “people will need to take more personal responsibility and advocacy for the things that they want to support.”

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