Rep. Kathy Castor (D)
Elected: 2006, 2nd term.
Born: Aug. 20, 1966, Miami .
Education: Emory U., B.A. 1988, FL St. U., J.D. 1991.
Family: Married (William Lewis); 2 children.
Elected office: Hillsborough Cnty. Comm., 2002-06.
Professional Career: Asst. gen. counsel, FL Dept. of Community Affairs, 1991-94; Practicing atty., 1994-2000.
The congresswoman from the 11th District is Kathy Castor, a Democrat elected in 2006. Castor studied political science at Emory University, earned her law degree from Florida State University and worked as a land-use attorney. Her parents were heavily involved in public service. Her father, Don Castor, sat on the Hillsborough County court for two decades. Her mother, Betty Castor, served in the state Senate, as state education commissioner and as president of the University of South Florida. In 2004, Betty Castor was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, but lost 49%-48% to Republican Mel Martinez. Kathy Castor herself appeared on the ballot twice, first in 2000, when she ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate, and again in 2002, when she won a four-year term on the Hillsborough County Commission.
|Kathy Castor (D)||184,106||(72%)||($662,366)|
|Eddie Adams (R)||72,825||(28%)||($57,655)|
|Kathy Castor (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (70%)
When five-term Democratic Rep. Jim Davis decided to run for governor in 2006, opening up a safe Democratic district, Kathy Castor entered the contest, benefiting from the familiarity of the Castor name after her mother’s close Senate election. In a district where Democrats enjoy a nearly 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans, Castor faced four opponents in the primary. The most formidable was state Senate Minority Leader Les Miller, a veteran African-American legislator. Although Miller was familiar to voters from his service in the state House and Senate, he proved unable to keep pace with Castor’s prolific fundraising. With the support of EMILY’s List, Castor raised nearly $1 million before the primary and outspent Miller 3-to-1. Whites make up less than half the district’s population, and Miller contended the seat was drawn to elect a minority candidate after the 2000 census, especially since the Tampa-St. Petersburg area has never elected a black representative. Castor trailed Miller in the heavily African-American portion of the Pinellas County, but she defeated him by more than 8,600 votes in Tampa’s Hillsborough County. She won 54%-34%.
The outcome of the general election in this comfortably Democratic district was never in doubt. Republican Eddie Adams, an architect, struggled to raise money and was absent from the campaign trail for three weeks in October while recovering from a ruptured appendix. Castor campaigned for expanded health care for low-income families and for stronger ethics and lobbying rules. Both were issues she advocated as a county commissioner. She also advocated a rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. She won the general election 70%-30%.
In the House, Castor has a liberal voting record. From her early days in Congress, she positioned herself for future roles in the Democratic leadership. She asked Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be appointed as the freshman representative to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which determines committee assignments. Pelosi, surprised because no one had asked her for the position before, promptly gave it to Castor. In 2007, she got choice seats on the Rules and the Armed Services committees. As a member of the leadership-run Rules panel, she was the first freshman to speak on the House floor when Congress took up its first legislative business under the new Democratic majority, which was a change in ethics rules.
But in 2007, she was one of only eight House Democrats to oppose the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, complaining that Senate revisions to the bill made its benefits less favorable for Florida. Many of her constituents were also opposed to a significant hike in the cigar tax in the legislation. Later, Castor, following her loyalist instincts, voted to override President Bush’s veto of the bill. When Republicans pushed in 2008 for increased oil production, she insisted on a permanent offshore drilling ban within 125 miles of the Florida coastline. In 2009, Castor took up the issue of increased trade and travel to Cuba, a popular move with many of her constituents and an idea that was being resurrected by the new Obama administration.
Castor was rewarded in 2009 with a seat on the influential Energy and Commerce Committee, where she wants to work on the issue of making health care more available and affordable.
In a rematch against Republican Eddie Adams in 2008, she increased her share of the vote from 70% to 72%, winning easily.