State Watch

Tampa elects its first gay mayor

Tampa voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly chose former police Chief Jane Castor as the city’s next mayor, making her the first openly gay mayor of one of Florida’s largest cities.
Castor, who spent more than 30 years with the Tampa Police Department before her retirement in 2015, won nearly three-quarters of the vote Tuesday night, easily outpacing banker David Straz.
Castor nearly won the race to replace retiring Mayor Bob Buckhorn outright, finishing with 48 percent of the vote in the March 5 primary. Straz finished with about 15 percent of the vote in the first round, even though he spent more money than the other seven candidates combined.
In the runoff, Straz tried to tie Castor to what he labeled corruption and an old boys’ network in City Hall. He spent more than $5 million of his own money on the race, more than double the amount Castor raised and spent.
The attacks did not work: Castor, who had support from Buckhorn and most of the city’s political elite, took 73 percent of the vote on Tuesday.
“I have never been more hopeful about Tampa’s future than I am this evening. Tonight, we begin a new chapter in Tampa’s history and I could not be more excited to be a part of it,” Castor said in a statement. “Tomorrow, the real work begins, because though we have accomplished so much, there is still so much to be done.”
Castor will become the first openly gay mayor of a major city in the southeastern United States, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ rights organization. Smaller cities in Florida, including Key West, Gainesville and Fort Lauderdale, have elected gay mayors but never a city the size of Tampa, which has a population of 385,000.
Castor is the second gay politician to win the mayoralty of a large American city in less than a month, after Lori Lightfoot won the right to run Chicago earlier this month. Lightfoot, like Castor, won about three-quarters of the vote.

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