Lynn Hurtak takes down better-funded Janet Cruz after bloody Tampa City Council campaign
Image via Lynn Hurtak.

Lynn Hurtak
Hurtak's win is a loss for Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

Tampa City Council member Lynn Hurtak will retain her District 3 seat after defeating former state Sen. Janet Cruz Tuesday night in the city’s runoff election. 

Hurtak pulled in 60.29% of the vote. 

That’s based on unofficial election results with all precincts in.

The re-elected Council member told the Tampa Bay Times the election showed a desire for a candidate who will be “honest with them” about issues facing the city.

““I don’t want to sugarcoat anything. Our job is to work together. Our job is to collaborate to make the city better,” she said.

“I just called my opponent to wish her well on the next four years on the Tampa City Council,” Cruz tweeted. “I look forward to seeing Tampa continue to grow and prosper.”

Hurtak has represented the district since last April when she was appointed to the seat following the resignation of former Council member John Dingfelder. This was her first time on the ballot facing voters. 

Cruz entered the race in late 2022 after losing her re-election bid for Florida Senate amid what turned out to be a red tsunami in Florida midterms even as Republicans were disappointed in other states.

While the race is nonpartisan and the candidates’ political affiliations didn’t appear on the ballot, both are Democrats. 

And while the two share some similar policy stances — both are pro-reproductive choice, both reject the overtly conservative politics streaming down from Tallahassee — progressives lined up behind Hurtak while Cruz drew more moderate and establishment support. 

State Democrats cheered the results of the Tampa elections. Voters also elected Alan ClendeninGuido Maniscalco and Charlie Miranda to council seats.

“Tonight, Tampa voters elected an outstanding group of Democrats who know what it means to serve the needs of their constituents. Congratulations, Councilmember-elect Clendenin, Maniscalco, Hurtak, and Miranda, on your city council election wins. The Florida Democratic Party looks forward to seeing you all work together to ensure the growth and prosperity of Tampa,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried.

The race boiled down to one main issue: Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, and the Mayor lost that battle.

Hurtak has been one of three Castor critics serving from the dais who would often vote against Castor’s priorities or in favor of measures that would erode her executive authority. 

Cruz, meanwhile, has family ties to the Mayor. Her daughter, lobbyist Ana Cruz, is Castor’s longtime partner and, as such, Tampa’s defacto First Lady. 

Hurtak’s campaign largely centered on those family ties, which proved Tuesday to have been a winning strategy. 

Hurtak may have also benefited from some strange political bedfellows. 

While Hurtak was the progressive darling of the race, she also managed to draw support from at least some of the city’s more involved conservatives. 

A group called Front Line Patriots Fund recently bankrolled a more than minute-long digital advertisement blasting Cruz, Castor, and their affiliation. It centered on the city’s PURE program, a proposal that would study options to recycle up to 50 million gallons per day of reclaimed water, rather than discharging it into Hillsborough Bay. Critics, including those behind the ad, call it toilet-to-tap.

The ad drew connections between Cruz and Castor through Ana Cruz, and brings former Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who supported Castor’s first bid for Mayor, into the loop.

Cruz, meanwhile, ran a well-funded campaign — her campaign raised more than $174,000 as of April 7 and her committee, Building the Bay, raised more than $60,000 in March alone. 

The race at times got ugly, with the Cruz camp frequently referring to Hurtak as “Lying Lynn.” During a candidate forum earlier this year, Hurtak drew the connection between Castor and Cruz, which prompted Cruz to ask Hurtak whether she hated “gay people.” 

Progressives derided the negative campaigning and banded together in a grassroots effort to defeat Cruz.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • Moe Lar

    April 26, 2023 at 6:09 am

    Every time Janet opens her mouth about sex she loses.

  • samantha albers

    April 27, 2023 at 11:13 am

    Put that nag to pasture. Cruz is done. This storm she created has major effects on Castor and others. Be careful what you wish for Ana.

Comments are closed.


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