No Obstacles to Kathy Castor's Progress

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: March 17, 2014 3:55 AM
Kathy Castor

Kathy Castor

Kathy Castor is off and running for a fifth term in Congress and all signs indicate she will be headed for another big win in her Tampa Bay district.

Castor, of course, comes from a family heavily involved in Florida politics with her mother serving as education commissioner and making a U.S. Senate bid while her father was a Hillsborough County judge. But Castor’s blazed her own path, rising to become president of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers and winning a seat on the Hillsborough County Commission before running for Congress in 2006.

As a member of the minority party, Castor hasn’t had that many chances to shine in Congress but she does sit on the Budget Committee and she’s played a minor role in the Democratic leadership, assigning other members of her party to committee roles. During her four terms, Castor has pretty much toed the party line on most issues like Obamacare, though she’s broken with Democrats on occasion and was the only member of her party from Florida not to back George W. Bush’s bailout in 2008.

Two Republicans -- John Coney and John Mark Grey -- have already jumped in to challenge Castor but they have a tough assignment. Democrats make up a majority of voters in this Tampa Bay district and hold around a 2-to-1 advantage over the Republicans when it comes to voter registration. Whoever emerges on the Republican side will have an uphill battle.

Castor hasn’t had much in the way of scares in recent years. When Jim Davis left Congress to run for governor in 2006, Castor easily won the seat. Despite facing four rivals in the Democratic primary, including Les Miller, Castor won with 54 percent. She blew out Republican Eddie Adams in the general election by 40 percent.

Since then, Castor has not had to sweat much in the general elections. She blew out Adams by an even bigger margin in 2008 than she did in 2006. Mike Prendergast came the closest in 2010, a Republican year, but even he lost by 20 percent. Redistricting in 2012 didn’t slow Castor down. She blew out Republican E.J. Otero by more than 40 percent last time out.

Castor is only 46 and Republicans don’t appear likely to offer her much of a challenge anytime soon. The Democratic bunch is pretty thin in Florida but Castor has shown little to make observers think she’s looking at running for governor or aiming for the U.S. Senate anytime soon.

But that’s not to say Castor is on a treadmill. After only four terms, Castor is the sixth most senior Democrat on the Budget Committee. That’s nothing to sneeze at and, if she continues to move up, even as a member of the minority party, Castor is set to play an important role at the national level when it comes to crafting the budget. Expect to hear more from her in the years to come.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

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