Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is throwing his weight behind Jane Castor for Tampa mayor. Vinik is leading the investment group behind the $3 billion Water Street Tampa development.
“Tampa is growing and changing in so many exciting ways. As police chief, Jane’s leadership helped lay the foundation for our economic progress by securing the safety of our community and reducing crime by more than 70 percent,” Vinik said in a statement. “I know as our next Mayor, she will continue to strengthen our economy and make Tampa an even better place to live and work.”
Vinik threw his wealth behind the All For Transportation campaign backing the 1 percent sales tax referendum voters approved in November to improve transit and transportation in Hillsborough County. Vinik donated a combined total of $700,000 to the campaign through personal contributions and through his companies.
“As our city begins to implement the All for Transportation plan, Jane will ensure those new funds are spent efficiently and effectively,” Vinik said. “I am thrilled to see where Tampa will go under her leadership.”
"Proud to have Jeff Vinik's support in this race! Jeff has played a major role in Tampa's ongoing renaissance and given so much back to our community.
As Mayor, we can do even better by investing in our neighborhoods, in transportation, affordable housing, and smart growth." pic.twitter.com/G4TTOrfoRd
— Jane Castor for Mayor (@JaneforTampa) January 23, 2019
Vinik comes with a big name and a big wallet. He regularly contributes to political campaigns and, through his Lightning Community Heroes program, has provided more than $17 million in philanthropic donations in the community. He has not donated yet to Castor’s campaign or her political committee, Tampa Strong, but it’s likely his endorsement means cash is coming.
“Jeff has played a major role in Tampa’s ongoing economic and cultural renaissance, and has dedicated so much to giving back to our community,” Castor said.
Castor is running in a crowded field to succeed current Mayor Bob Buckhorn who is leaving office due to term limits. She faces some stiff competition. Retired businessman David Straz is running a self-funded campaign using, so far, $1.5 million of his own money, far more than any other candidate has raised. She also faces other candidates with strong name recognition including former Hillsborough County Commissioner and longtime transit activist Ed Turanchik as well as Tampa City Council members Harry Cohen and Mike Suarez.
Retired Judge Dick Greco Jr. jumped in late to the race. He could benefit from the Greco name being recognizable in Tampa politics due to his father’s several terms as Tampa Mayor. And small business consultant Topher Morrison, who entered the race as a little-known underdog, is fighting hard to pilfer votes from some of the bigger names in the race.
Though she is the presumptive front-runner, Castor is taking her campaign seriously.
“Our future is bright here in Tampa, and as Mayor, I look forward to building on our current economic success but we can and we will do even better by investing in our neighborhoods, in transportation, affordable housing, and smart growth,” Castor said.
Castor spent more than 35 years working for the Tampa Police Department including her final six as its first female chief.