Sunday, February 18, 2018
Politics

Two Republicans vying for nomination in Hillsborough's District 14 congressional race

TAMPA — Democratic incumbent Kathy Castor's U.S. House district, which includes a good slice of Tampa, has long been unkind to Republicans.

Eddie Adams Jr. and Evelio "EJ" Otero Jr. face off in Tuesday's GOP primary with the winner challenging Castor in November's general election.

Otero, 51, is new to politics after 28 years in the Air Force, retiring as a colonel. Adams, 58, is running his fifth campaign for office but has never won, including three bids for Castor's seat.

Castor's grip on the seat will be hard to break, both men say. The heavily Democratic district 14 also includes much of St. Petersburg and a swath of coastal southeast Hillsborough.

But Adams said the upcoming Republican National Convention may alter the political landscape.

"God gave Tampa the Republican National Convention," he said. "That's going to generate millions for the city. It will create an economic boom for a short period. Maybe some folks will feel beholden to the Republican Party. It won't be such a bad thing to be a Republican in Tampa this year. People vote their pocket."

Adams, of Temple Terrace, has never come close to unseating Castor. She beat him by about 40 percentage points in 2006 and 2008. In 2010, he lost the GOP primary to Mike Prendergast in the Republican primary.

Otero also notes the challenge. "It'd be dishonest it I said it's not an uphill fight."

Otero is ahead in fundraising as of June 30. He's raised $72,746 to Adams' $225.

In his 14 years at MacDill Air Force Base, Otero worked at U.S. Central Command and Special Operations Command, which spearheaded the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A political science and journalism major at Iowa State University, Otero also has a master's degree from the Air War College. His father, Cuba native Evelio Otero Sr., was a well-known journalist and the first television news anchorman in Puerto Rico starting in 1948.

The elder Otero died in a 1988 house fire in Maryland when his son was living with him. Otero said he was burned as he unsuccessfully tried to pull his father out of the flames. "That was the worst day of my life," Otero said.

Otero, a Tampa resident and native of Puerto Rico, worked in intelligence at MacDill and overseas. He also collaborated with other nations partnered with SOCom.

He said the decision to run for office was tied to his unhappiness with the Obama administration's handling of foreign and military affairs.

With cuts in defense spending, Otero said, politicians need to work harder to ensure that MacDill operations are not endangered. It will help to have someone in office who has a deep understanding of the military, he added.

Otero warns that it's always possible that the Pentagon would close the base to save cash. "They would close (MacDill) at the drop of a hat," he said.

He also supports increased trade with Latin America, lower taxes and fewer regulations on business and reforms for the IRS and in Congress.

Adams' first run for office was an unsuccessful bid for Temple Terrace City Council, running as a Democrat. Adams, grandson of a Baptist preacher, said he decided the switch parties after that loss because he found his political philosophy better matched the GOP.

On his website, Adams said, "We ... must never forget that our rights come from God Almighty, and that the ... values that have sustained humanity for millennia — marriage between a man and a woman, respect for life, and a common sense of right and wrong — should be reflected in our government."

Adams' parents separated when he was 6, and as the oldest of five children, Adams said he was forced to mature quickly and help his mother raise and care for the family.

He got a degree in microbiology from the University of South Florida and worked at Tampa General Hospital from 1977 to 1996 as a lab tech.

Adams said he became frustrated by the lack of opportunity for advancement, and in a career shift, he earned a master's degree at the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University/USF Cooperative School of Architecture and Design.

Today, he owns Adams & Associates Residential Design.

He also has been active in civic affairs, and is a member of the Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the Central City YMCA.

Adams supports balancing the federal budget, promoting job growth and expanding the Port of Tampa. He criticizes Otero for saying MacDill might be closed, which he said is unrealistic.

"We have to make Tampa Bay like Silicon Valley," he said. "We need to create new jobs where none exist. That takes new ideas."

William R. Levesque can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3432.

Comments
Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

MUNICH — President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said Saturday there was "incontrovertible" evidence of a Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election, a blunt statement that shows how significantly the new criminal charges leveled by an...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

A prominent Republican political donor demanded on Saturday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style fi...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Hundreds rally against gun violence in downtown St. Pete

Hundreds rally against gun violence in downtown St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — A red heart-shaped balloon rose above crowd of several hundred people that had gathered at Williams Park on Saturday evening to mourn Wednesday’s school shooting in Broward County and to protest gun violence.Below the balloon, signs ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Divided Congress unable to act on guns, immigration despite public pressure

Divided Congress unable to act on guns, immigration despite public pressure

It’s been five years since the guns and immigration debate collided at the same time on Capitol Hill. This time, the results were even more unproductive.In early 2013, weeks after a gunman killed 20 students and six educators at an elementary school ...
Published: 02/17/18
Stormy Daniels does Tampa: 10 minutes of dancing, then $20 a photo

Stormy Daniels does Tampa: 10 minutes of dancing, then $20 a photo

TAMPA — Well, that was fast.Adult film actress Stormy Daniels made her first appearance at Thee Dollhouse on Friday evening, the first of several shows planned this weekend at the Tampa strip club.She took the stage about 7 p.m. dressed in a pink, fl...
Published: 02/16/18

3 things we just learned from the indictment of 13 Russians in the Mueller investigation

We have the first indictment in Robert Mueller’s investigation that actually has to do with Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The special counsel on Friday indicted 13 Russians in connection with a large-scale troll farm effort aimed at influenc...
Published: 02/16/18
Under fire, Kelly overhauls White House clearance procedure

Under fire, Kelly overhauls White House clearance procedure

NEW YORK — Under pressure over his handling of abuse allegations against a top aide, White House chief of staff John Kelly on Friday ordered sweeping changes in how the White House clears staff members to gain access to classified information, acknow...
Published: 02/16/18
Romney officially announces run for Utah Senate seat

Romney officially announces run for Utah Senate seat

Associated PressSALT LAKE CITY — Former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is running for a Utah Senate seat, officially launching his political comeback attempt Friday by praising his adopted home state as a model for an acrimonious national governmen...
Published: 02/16/18
Russians charged with meddling in 2016 presidential race

Russians charged with meddling in 2016 presidential race

WASHINGTON — Thirteen Russians, including a businessman close to Vladimir Putin were charged Friday in an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election through social media propaganda, aimed in part at helping Republican Donald T...
Published: 02/16/18
Mitt Romney makes it official: He’s running for Senate in Utah

Mitt Romney makes it official: He’s running for Senate in Utah

Mitt Romney on Friday announced his long-expected Senate bid in his adopted state of Utah with a low-key rollout intended to duck roiling Republican divisions and avoid signaling that he will play the role of foil to President Donald Trump. "Utah...
Published: 02/16/18