Tampa Rep. Jackie Toledo has announced her endorsement of entrepreneur Jerry Torres as he challenges U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor for Florida’s 14th Congressional District.
Toledo, who herself is running for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, announced her support Saturday. The pair were previously opponents before Torres opted to shift his campaign from CD 15 to CD 14. Toledo, who is a licensed professional engineer and local business owner, was first elected to her current seat in the Florida House — House District 60 — in 2016, and has held onto the district against credible challenges.
“I’m excited to pledge my full support and endorsement to Jerry Torres for Florida’s 14th Congressional District. Jerry Torres is an amazing patriot fighting for our state and country,” Toledo said in a statement. “As we have seen in 2020, all elections are important, and one seat can change the entire direction a country is headed. Jerry Torres is a strong conservative who will continue fighting for our country in Congress.”
Torres, a Lakeland Republican and veteran, was most recently endorsed American Veterans Vote.
He faces a Republican Primary against Sam Nashagh and potentially James Judge, who is fighting a recent disqualification. Torres arrives in the GOP Primary with finances behind him. The former Green Beret developed personal wealth after founding Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, which he sold in 2019.
But whoever wins the nod in CD 14 faces an enormous uphill climb against incumbent Castor, who is the likely Democratic nominee as she seeks her ninth term to represent the Tampa district. Castor does face a Democratic primary challenge from Christopher Bradley.
Under a new map signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the seat leans heavily Democratic and covers downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg. About 58.8% of voters in the district as newly configured voted for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential Election, and just 39.72% favored Republican Donald Trump.