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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Billionaire developer split on 2016 race: 'Both of them are my friends'

Businessman John A. Catsimatidis.

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Businessman John A. Catsimatidis.

John Catsimatidis, whose New York-based Red Apple Group is buying a prime block in downtown St. Petersburg, made his fortune in groceries, oil and real estate. But it's politics that has often kept him in the news.

The Greek-American bilionaire has contributed to a variety of Democratic and Republican campaigns though he has been described as especially "loyal'' to the Clintons. In 2008, he hosted fundraisers that raised more than $750,000 for the presidential race of Hillary Clinton, who attended his daughter's wedding. He also is close to Bill Clinton, who has flown on Catsimatidis-owned planes.

In 2013, Catsimatidis unsuccesfully ran for mayor of New York City as a Republican. Two months ago, he told Crain's New York that he expects Republicans to rally around Donald Trump if the presumptive nominee starts talking about incentives to expand businesses in the United States.

So who does he plan to vote for come November? In a phone interview this week with Tampa Bay Times about his mixed-used St. Petersburg project, the 67-year-old Catsimatidis demurred.

"Both of them are my friends,'' he said, "and I'm just waiting for things to sort out.''

[Last modified: Friday, July 8, 2016 10:03am]


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