Kathy Castor draws another Republican challenger in veteran James Judge

James Judge
Judge has already raised more than $100K since entering the race.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor has drawn another Republican opponent looking to flip Florida’s 14th Congressional District from blue to red: Tampa Bay native James Judge.

Judge, a 37-year-old local businessman, announced his entrance into the CD 14 race Wednesday after filing paperwork to declare his candidacy in mid-December. Since filing, he has already made hefty gains, raising more than $100,000 in the final 16 days of 2021.

Born in Clearwater, Judge graduated from Eckerd College and served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 2003 through 2007. In the Coast Guard, Judge worked in Operation Iraqi Freedom aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Adak and in Miami as a public affairs specialist. Later on, Judge served at the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Kabul as a spokesman for NATO and the U.S. Department of Defense.

After that assignment, Judge returned to Tampa where he began consulting and later founded Judge Public Relations, a PR and marketing firm headquartered.

Judge is also involved in nonprofit work, helping to raise more than $1 million for pet charities, including local organization Frankie’s Friends. He is perhaps best known locally as one of the founding members and spokesperson for the Skyway 10k, which has raised more than $2 million for military families.

In a statement announcing his candidacy, Judge said issues involving the restriction of liberties and the state of the country prompted his entry into the race.

“We have many problems facing our local area and our nation, and career politicians like Ms. Castor, who think they can walk all over our freedoms, need to understand who they work for and that restricting liberties is fundamentally un-American,” Judge said in a statement. “It’s important to note, I am not a conventional candidate and I’m not a politician. I am a Christian, husband, veteran and a native Floridian, and I hate where I see this country headed. Ultimately, I decided I could no longer sit by and watch our country suffer any longer.”

Judge is a member of the National Rifle Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, as well as an active member of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa.

Judge married his wife, Danielle, in 2015. She owns Rowdy’s Pet Resort in Apollo Beach. As avid animal lovers, the pair have four dogs, three cats, three horses and 10 chickens.

Judge faces Army veteran Jay Collins in the Republican Primary for Florida’s 14th Congressional District. Collins entered the race in July.

The winner of the Republican Primary will likely face an uphill battle against the Democratic incumbent, who has held the seat with relative ease since her initial election in 2006.

In 2020, Castor bested Republican challenger Christine Quinn 60% to 40%. Quinn had previously lost to Castor in 2016 62% to 38%. In 2018, Castor ran unopposed.

Besides her strong ties to the seat, the district also leans blue — but, with redistricting on the horizon, current partisan leanings may change, with eyes heavy on CD 14.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]



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