Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Once more unto the breach for Joe Redner

Joe Redner at 70 radiates health and serenity. And why not? He put his demons behind him years ago; he presides over a diversified business empire. He seems to be a happy man.

Of course Redner is most known for his marquee, world-famous business, the Mons Venus nude-dancing club on Dale Mabry Highway.

But that's one part of Joe Redner Enterprises, with spacious corporate offices nearby on Spruce Street. Redner's real estate holdings, for instance, have made him the landlord to a branch office of the Internal Revenue Service, which delights him.

Indeed, there is only one endeavor in public life in which Redner has been completely thwarted — election to office. Eight times he has run for local posts. Redner's showings have been increasingly respectable; he made a runoff election in his last bid for the City Council.

This year he is aiming higher by challenging state Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, as a no-party candidate. There is no Republican in the race.

Redner is a smart, serious candidate with a lot to say. He is running for the Legislature — more accurately, against it — with a full-bore criticism of Florida's system.

"We need someone who will fight," Redner, sporting a graying, Willie Nelson-ish ponytail, said over a healthful lunch. "Don't come home and tell me how you voted. Tell me what you did before that."

Redner wants to reform the system of money in state politics, including the shadowy network of no-limit campaign committees allowed by Florida law. He has studied the grand jury recommendations that accompanied the indictment of former House Speaker Ray Sansom.

"Democracy dies in the dark," Redner adds. "I love that saying."

House District 58 is a sprawling Democratic dominion reaching from Town 'N Country on the west to the University of South Florida on the east. But its heart is West Tampa, where the biggest voting group remains the heirs of Ybor City's Hispanic heritage.

Cruz, 54, won the District 58 seat in a hard-fought special election earlier this year. She is a fourth-generation Ybor City native, the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of cigar workers.

"I welcome the process," says Cruz, who has supported candidates running against Redner in past elections. "I give him credit for running. Democracy at its finest."

Redner says he doesn't have anything against Cruz: "She has good intentions. But I'm better equipped mentally for dealing with that type of people up there."

Cruz, in turn, says she has nothing against Redner: "In the races I've managed against him, he's always been a gentleman. He's always been fair. He sticks to the issues."

But Cruz says she is a product of the community, knows it well, and has the ability to work with both parties. She is proud of getting a bill passed this year that helps police keep track of career offenders, which she dealt with Republicans to enact.

It is up to the voters of District 58 to decide, of course, and this is not an attempt to tell them what to do. But as a hypothetical, am I distraught at the idea of "state Rep. Joe Redner"? Absolutely not.

They'd fight you up there, I warned Redner. They'd give you a crummy office, the worst parking spot, the most useless committees. They'd try to stomp on your bills.

Redner broke into a huge grin. "I'd thrive on it," he said. "Thrive on it." No doubt.

Once more unto the breach for Joe Redner 07/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 22, 2010 7:59am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Christian to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a perfect 30-0 …

    Matheu Nelson of Calvary Christian celebrates scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning.
  2. Mayor: Men stabbed after anti-Muslin rant died as 'heroes' (w/video)


    PORTLAND, Ore. — Police said Saturday they'll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of an Oregon man accused of fatally stabbing two men who tried to intervene when the suspect yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.

    A sign of thanks rests against a traffic light pole at a memorial outside the transit center on Saturday in Portland, Ore. [Associated Press]
  3. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  4. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Wing Jonathan Drouin could be the only piece that Tampa Bay has to acquire a badly needed top-tier defenseman.
  5. Ryan Hunter-Reay running strong as he seeks a second Indianapolis 500 title

    Auto racing

    Ryan Hunter-Reay isn't a big jewelry fan.

    Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won Indy in 2014, is a contender for a second title in today’s 101st running. He qualified 10th, had the third-fastest practice lap and his team is looking strong.