Sen. Janet Cruz will kick off her re-election campaign on Saturday, with a little help from U.S. Reps. Val Demings and Kathy Castor.
Cruz, a Tampa Democrat, has served Senate District 18 since 2018. So far, she is the only candidate filed to run for the district.
Her campaign kick-off is set for noon at Sal Y Mar, Aloft Hotel. Co-hosts include local politicos such as Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, Rep. Dianne Hart, State Attorney Andrew Warren and former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.
Hillsborough County Commissioners Harry Cohen, Pat Kemp and Kim Overman, as well as Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco and former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will also be on hand to support Cruz.
Tickets start at $100, although the event is free for students and volunteers. Host committee slots $1,000.
Cruz currently has $79,874 banked for her 2022 campaign, according to the latest available finance reports. She also has $272,832 available in her affiliated political committee, Building the Bay.
Cruz narrowly flipped the Senate seat in 2018, beating former Sen. Dana Young by 411 votes out of nearly 208,000 cast, a margin of just 0.2 percentage points. Young, a GOP-backed incumbent during the 2018 race, now heads the state’s tourism marketing arm.
While Cruz does not yet face a challenger, the tight 2018 race and redistricting means it will likely be a top target for future Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, the Naples Republican who will be quarterbacking the GOP’s Senate campaign efforts this cycle.
Current district borders give Cruz a slim advantage. According to book closing reports published ahead of the 2020 election, Democrats make up about 37% of the electorate compared to a 34% share for Republicans. Democrats have 11,459 more registered voters than Republicans.
The slim voter registration advantage will be tested in a midterm that’s certain to become a referendum on the Joe Biden administration, especially if the current tug-of-war over suburban voters stretches into 2022. All signs are it will.
The Primary Election, if necessary, will be held Aug. 23, 2022. The General Election follows on Nov. 8.