One of the leading Florida Democrats on Capitol Hill is throwing her weight around, offering early endorsements in the 2022 eleciton cycle.
The daughter of prominent Florida Democrat Betty Castor, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., was first elected to Congress in 2006 and had put in terms on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. When U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., brought back the Select Committee on Climate Crisis, Castor took a major jump up the ladder as she was picked to lead it. Two and a half years later, Castor still wields the gavel on it.
Earlier this month, Castor threw her support to U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., who is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis. Crist, then a Republican, was elected governor in 2006 but he chose to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation in 2010 instead of for a second term. Crist joined the Democrats at the end of 2012 and was his new party’s gubernatorial nominee in 2014 though he came up short against Gov. Rick Scott. Two years later, Crist defeated U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., and he and Castor have often partnered to help Tampa Bay on Capitol Hill.
Castor stressed her support for Crist this week, even as buzz continues to grow that state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will also run for the Democratic nomination.
On Wednesday, Castor insisted she was “proud to endorse” Crist and was “thrilled that he is running to bring Floridians together.”
“Charlie will restore civility, bring decency to our politics and build a Florida for all,” Castor added. “As governor, I know that Charlie Crist will stand up for: voting rights, high quality education, affordable health care, lean energy and clean water — just as he has done during his years of service to the people of our great state.”
That was not the only early endorsement Castor made this month. Even before U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., announced she would not run for the Democratic nomination to take on U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Castor backed U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., for the nomination.
“Val Demings stands up for Floridians every day. Her voice is needed in the U.S. Senate now more than ever,” Castor insisted.
While she’s never shown much ambition to run for statewide office or move into the highest level of House leadership, Castor might have the chance to advance through the ranks on Capitol Hill if she plays her cards right. Only 54 and representing a secure Democrat district in Hillsborough County, Castor might just be able to move up the ladder, especially as the top Democrats in charge–Pelosi, U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-SC–are all in their early 80s.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.