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Harry Cohen endorses Jane Castor for mayor

Cohen hurled several passive criticisms toward Straz.

Tampa City Council member Harry Cohen is endorsing Jane Castor for mayor. Cohen ran unsuccessfully for mayor and finished third in the seven-way race.

Cohen endorsed Castor over the race’s second place finisher, David Straz.

Cohen announced his support from the Port Tampa Library in South Tampa in the district Cohen has represented on City Council for eight years. During his remarks, Cohen hurled several passive criticisms toward Straz, without actually mentioning his name.

“She is the only candidate in this race who has demonstrated a depth of knowledge about the issues and a curiosity to learn new ideas,” Cohen said of Castor. “She is the only candidate in this race who understands the budgetary realities and challenges that the next mayor will face and she will ensure that arbitrary budget cuts won’t close after school programs or end neighborhood investments.”

Cohen was referring to Straz’s campaign trail claim that he would cut the city’s $1 billion budget 10 percent by identifying “fluff” and getting rid of it.

Such cuts would be incredibly difficult considering the city is already pinching pennies and has faced cuts to various city departments over the past two years.

Cohen’s endorsement is less of a big deal for Castor as it is a kick to the shins for Straz.

Castor walked away Tuesday night with 48 percent of the vote in a seven-way race, a commanding lead that is no easy feat to achieve. Straz, meanwhile, finished in second place with just 15.5 percent of the vote.

That wide gap means Straz has a long way to go to catch Castor while Castor need only stay the course in the final six-weeks of the campaign.

Castor already secured an endorsement from another former foe, retired judge Dick Greco Jr.

Between Greco and Cohen, the endorsements come with potentially more than 10,000 votes.

Cohen vowed to help Castor score a win on April 23 in any way he could. He said he would be reaching out to his supporters and financial contributors to support Castor.

“Since this campaign began last year I have had the opportunity to share a stage and usually, due to the alphabetic nature of things, sit next to Jane Castor at nearly 30 forums,” Cohen said. “We learned a lot at these forums. We learned which candidates were ready to lead on day one, which candidates have realistic visions for the future of our city and which candidates understand the issues and the challenges facing us.”

That candidate, Cohen said, is Castor.  

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn also endorsed Castor this week.

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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