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Passing the Buck: Sarah Palin echo; major Straz endorsement

With forums nearly everyday, someone’s bound to say something that raises an eyebrow.

February is more than half over and campaigning in Tampa’s contentious mayoral race continues to plug along with proposed plans, major endorsements and the occasional political déjà vu.

Friday, David Straz landed a major endorsement that could give his campaign a big boost. But he also commented in a way that sounded almost exactly like one Sarah Palin made in 2008 — not a good look in Tampa. Of course, with candidates speaking at forums nearly every day, someone’s bound to say something that raises an eyebrow or two.

Meanwhile, candidates continue to spend more and more money on television ads.

Here’s what rounded out the workweek.

Straz’s Palin moment” via Florida Politics — Straz got put on the spot Friday afternoon during a Tampa Tiger Bay Club luncheon when a member asked him to define his claims better that “blogs” are saying “things aren’t great” in Tampa.

Asked which blogs he was reading, Straz briefly channeled Palin and said he reads them all.

Palin was mocked mercilessly in late 2008 after she responded to a reporter’s question about which newspapers she read and, rather than explicitly naming them just said “all of them.”

It might not be a good look for a candidate running for mayor of a city that went soundly against Donald Trump in 2016 especially when Straz himself voted for Trump, though he has since said he regrets that vote.

Straz is in what is more than likely a vulnerable situation. Sitting in second place he would advance to a runoff with Jane Castor — if the polling numbers hold up. With Castor polling at 45 percent and no other candidate even reaching double digits except for Straz, it makes him the target to move on beyond March 5.

That means that instead of taking on Castor, who’s polling numbers make her almost untouchable, Straz is taking the brunt of the political attacks.

But Straz also landed a pretty big endorsement — The Florida State Building and Construction Trades Council is endorsing Straz. 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 make up the executive board of the statewide group and unanimously voted to also back Straz.

Castor releases affordable housing plan” via Florida Politics — The former police chief turned mayoral front-runner is combining a series of reforms to address the issue including expanding access, streamlining city codes and incentivizing developers, among others.

“As Tampa’s economy continues to soar, we must ensure that this prosperity reaches every neighborhood of our city. That starts with keeping Tampa livable and affordable for all,” Castor said.

“As Mayor, I will immediately convene a working group of policy professionals in the areas of workforce and affordable housing development to work with stakeholders in our communities to craft an action plan based around solutions to our affordable housing crisis.”

Castor makes five recommendations in her plan. She would ensure the city is focusing on smart growth including re-evaluating city codes that might serve as a barrier to development. Those include parking minimums retail requirements.

Her plan would also streamline the city’s permitting process to make it easier for developers to build affordable housing projects.

Castor and Cohen drop big money on ad buys” via Florida Politics — Castor, through her campaign, is running 2,199 spots on various Spectrum channels. The 30-second spots will begin airing Monday and run through next Sunday.

Castor’s campaign dropped $35,000 on the ad buy. They’ll run Monday through the following Sunday.

Cohen will run 751 spots on Spectrum channels. The 30-second spots will run through Tuesday.

Cohen’s political committee, Tampa Together, paid $34,929 for the spots running in central and northwest Hillsborough.

The ads will run on assorted Spectrum channels in the Tampa market.

Chad Chronister backs Charlie Miranda for City Council” via Florida Politics — “Charlie Miranda is an exceptional public servant. He makes public safety a priority and is a problem solver,” Chronister said. “Councilman Miranda is a reliable voice for our neighborhoods and a proactive advocate for Tampa.”

Chronister just won his own election in 2018 after serving nearly 28 years within the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

“Charlie Miranda is a partner that our community and law enforcement can count on.   He has dedicated his life to public service, and we need to keep his voice on our City Council,” Chronister added.

Chronister, a Republican, is working to embrace criminal justice reform and embrace Tampa’s diverse community. He said Miranda is the best candidate in that district to embrace those ideals.

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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 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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