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Tampa Mayor’s Race Mercifully Winds Down with Jane Castor as Heavy Favorite

April 8, 2019 - 9:00am
David Straz and Jane Castor
David Straz and Jane Castor

The Tampa mayoral runoff April 23 matching former police chief Jane Castor against billionaire David Straz will end with one sure loser: Tampa residents.

Neither candidate excited the electorate, as witnessed by the anemic 20.55 percent primary turnout March 5. Voters traditionally go to the polls in far fewer numbers for the runoff.

A microscopic 9.86 percent of Tampa registered voters favored runaway leader Castor in the primary. She garnered 48 percent of the turnout against Straz and five other foes.

Essentially, the contest pits outgoing Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s entrenched cabal, represented by Castor, and a second group with Straz as poster child, that is attempting to minimize Buckhorn’s influence.

There is no confidence among a large number of progressives, mainstream Democrats, and even some Republicans that either Castor or Straz can vault Tampa from its place as a third-tier American city into a category that includes San Diego, Portland, Charlotte, Austin, and Miami.  All are more contemporary socially, culturally, and politically than greater Tampa and are thus more able to attract Fortune 1000 companies and high-tech startups.

In Hillsborough County, relocating the national headquarters of Mosaic and the opening of a Bass Pro Shop are considered major coups. It is pathetic and embarrassing.

Castor, 59, made a national name for herself as police chief with a “biking while black” program that garnered the attention of the U. S. Department of Justice. In a 2015 NewsTallk Florida interview, Straz railed against the Millennial generation, a demographic deemed desirable by local economic development interests.

With the Buckhorn machine behind her, Castor should win the runoff easily. Straz has spent millions in a fragmented, directionless effort with one message: Castor is a Buckhorn puppet and would be bad for Tampa.

Despite the handwringing, she is the city’s best hope.

Castor has told voters that the targeting of black bicyclists was wrong. She says she embraces diversity. She has confided to some that she is independent of Buckhorn, a climate change denier who attracted plenty of negative national headlines during his eight-year tenure.  She understands the problems confronting the city.

Castor will start with a clean slate with the racial problems in the past. Straz, on the other hand, has shown little grasp of the issues facing Tampanians during the long slog of debates that began in November.

Straz, 76, has never acknowledged his disdain for Millennials, let alone recanted his vile characterization of them.  He described the generation thusly:  “The work ethic isn’t there. ... They have a handout mentality. They just don’t seem to want to work hard. ... There’s a lack of work ethic. ... It could be the parents that don’t want to instill a work ethic.”

The Straz campaign scrubbed the videoed interview from YouTube, but Tampa Bay Beat has archived the audio. As a public service, we are saving Straz the embarrassment of misguidingly disputing our quotes from the interview.

Straz has spent more than $4 million in reported campaign expenses and unreported PAC payoffs. His campaign offered money to at least two media entities, a local blogger, and several special interest groups for endorsements and/or favorable media content.

Straz, who ditched his Republican registration a couple of months before announcing his run and is an avowed Trump voter, received the endorsement of a local Muslim group.

Polls are showing these out-of-the-box tactics are backfiring. Castor is a projected landslide winner.

Tampa city races are officially nonpartisan but historically have not been perceived as such.

Castor is also a former Republican, which paradoxically vexes progressives and Republicans alike. Progressives cannot in good conscience support either candidate while Republicans hoped to stretch their influence inside the city limits.

One prominent Republican termed the Castor/Straz registration switches “frustrating.”  The Hillsborough GOP needs to rethink its role in Tampa, he said, with registration drives, candidate recruitment, and debunking the assumption that being a Republican within city limits is a handicap.

Jim Bleyer, a former reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and Tampa Tribune, writes the Tampa Bay Beat blog.

Comments

Iam a ex- felon lived in College Hill Homes most of my life in Tampa.I am well known and can tell you more about the streets and communities all around Tampa.I sold drugs on bycycles and almost got hit by a officer while riding a bike selling drugs at night.However other criminals was actually robbing people with pistols while riding bikes- including stores! Tampa is a high ranking city in the United States for bycycles and pedestrians injuries and deaths..I fully understood that we needed lights and why people thought we we were being harassed.The bottom line we were using bikes and stolen bycycles in a commission on crimes.And the only people complaining are the ones who continues to do the wrong things.Lets make the record straight Tampa is much safer and is ranked 12th and one of the safest cities in the United States.Chief Jane Castor did her job and its not fair to discredit her of the Great Job she and the Tampa Police Department done.All her good outweighs anything the public has to say.31 years risking her life to bring down the crime rate dramatically! Now thats coming from a Street Expert! I am Bruce Booman.Haynes Founder "Men And Women Of Power" Against Violence Ect. And I as a Street Expert approve this Message. Early voting starts April 14TH - 21ST and ELECTION Day APRIL 23RD 2019. Thats Why vote CHAMBERLAIN CHIEFS MRS.JANE CASTOR MAYOR Of The City TAMPA FLORIDA.Come on ex- felons and celebrate the AMENDMENT 4 VICTORY of the RESTORATION of our voting rights.Goooooo Vote!

Both candidates have something to offer but what we need right now is someone who understands how to get us out of this debt. Straz knows banking and has never filled for bankruptcy, I can see him making sure Tampa moves out of its debt. He was appointed by Mayor Buckhorn on the Transition committee and already gave his recommendations to reduce the bond. He has been part of the Florida Transportation Commission appointed by both Governors Bush and Crist. So, its not like he doesn't know what he is talking about.

The City of Tampa is required by law to have a balanced budget. The city HAS NO DEBT.

Straz is trying to buy his way into the mayors office! He has paid for manufactured false polls and bought non factual TV ads. He is just another lying Trump lemming who has an ego as big as his wallet! His name is plastered on enough buildings in the city. We don'r need or want a banker with cash stuffed pockets putting the name STRAZ in three foot neon letters on city hall. Oh, and what is the old rich guys obsession with red light cameras? Did he get ticket for turning right on red without stopping?

Straz is trying to buy his way into the mayors office! He has paid for manufactured false polls and bought non factual TV ads. He is just another lying Trump lemming who has an ego as big as his wallet! His name plastered on enough buildings in the city. We don'r need or want a banker with cash stuffed pockets putting the name STRAZ in three foot neon letters on city hall. Oh, and what is the old rich guys obsession with red light cameras? Did he get ticket for turning right on red without stopping?

Actually, “anonymous,” aka the Straz campaign, he has shown a threadbare knowledge of local issues. He was the worst performer of seven candidates in multjple forums. His appointment was based on political donations, not because of any expertise on transportaation. Asked for solutions and specifics on transportation during the candidate forums, Straz tiossed off the queries with, “I’ll hire the best people.” He was truly pathetic and if voting for mayor was a ranked choice system, Straz would have received a ton of seventh-choice votes.

Tampa's government is like two mules hitched together behind-to-behind. If, by some miracle, they could turn those mules around and hitch them together head-to-head, Tampa could be one of the top cities in the nation. It has everything: great airport, deep sea port, amazing location, sports, the arts ... We must pray for Tampa. Prayer changes things.

Spit in one hand and pray in the other and see which one fills up first!

Castor will do just fine! How can we be third rate with soon to be 5 Super Bowls hosted, 2 final fours, 1 final frozen four, 1 Stanley cup Champioship soon to be 2, 1 Arena Football Championship and 1 Superbowl Championship, some of the first rate cities have none! Go figure. Castor for Mayor and no one else. Let’s Roll!!!

You perfectly illustrate how poorly Tampa fares by listing sports championships...and a pathetically sparse list at that....meaning by any measurement., Tampa trails the pack.

We need less fixation on sports and more attention to education, research and business!

Since when have "Mosaic" and "Bass Pro" been the arbiters of ANYTHING?!?... Face it Tampa; you have always been, and will always continue to be a "Third Rate City" 'posing as a political force'... Tampa will always remain "as the tail wagged by the dog"... when necessary and convenient... A somewhat attractive small city, but redundant "on the way to the beach"...

It's the Tampenos business. Stay out of it!

Straz learned nothing in 2016, all the Democrats did was pillory Trump as 'orange man' He has pilloried Castor with nothing offered to counter her, He deserves to lose BTW I think the Governor does more to attract businesses than the Mayor

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