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David Straz earns 11th-hour endorsement from veterans group

“I will fight for returning military members.”

The Democratic Veterans Caucus of Florida Hillsborough County is endorsing David Straz for Tampa mayor, the group announced Monday.

It’s a last minute endorsement rolling in just one day before Election Day and comes after one week of early voting and returned mail ballots have already yielded a more than 11 percent voter turnout in the race.

“We believe David has the best leadership experience for our men and women who proudly served and are serving in our military,” said the group’s president, Kevin Washington. “With David’s success in his personal life, he is the best candidate to improve the affordable housing and job creation needs our veterans and active duty members have.”

Straz said the group chose to endorse him, in part, because he would form a Veterans Advisory Commission to focus on improving the quality of life of Tampa veterans and military members.

“I will fight for returning military members to come home with good health care, job placement programs and affordable and attainable housing,” Straz said in a statement.

Straz will be waving signs with supporters at the corner of MacDill Avenue and Gandy Boulevard in South Tampa near MacDill Air Force Base Monday afternoon at 4:15 to, as he put it, “express his appreciation to the Veteran’s organization.”

Straz and the other six candidates for mayor are spending the last day before Election Day trying to grab as many last minute votes as possible.

As of Monday morning, voter turnout in the race had already exceeded 11 percent. That amount is expected to at least double with Election Day voter turnout.

Straz is currently polling in second place in the race behind front-runner Jane Castor. If those numbers hold, the two candidates would face off again April 23 in a runoff.

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

Polls open 7 a.m. Tuesday.

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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