Tampa mayor election: Jane Castor easily defeats David Straz in historic race

It wasn’t close.
Retired Tampa Police Chief and now Tampa Mayor-Elect Jane Castor will become the first openly gay Mayor of Tampa, Florida. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
Retired Tampa Police Chief and now Tampa Mayor-Elect Jane Castor will become the first openly gay Mayor of Tampa, Florida. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published April 23, 2019|Updated April 24, 2019

What you need to know

  • Jane Castor, 59, the former Tampa police chief, trounced David Straz, 76, a retired banker and philanthropist. Castor won by a 46-point margin, becoming the first out gay woman to lead a major Southeastern city.
  • At 7:15 p.m., the Tampa Bay Times called the race for Jane Castor. She will be Tampa’s next mayor. Check out our live results page here.

8:25 p.m.: That’s gonna do it for our election live blog. Thank you for following along with the Tampa Bay Times. Until next time!

8:22 p.m.: From Straz’ watch party:

8:09 p.m.: All precincts are now in, Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer says.

7:59 p.m.: Straz is now addressing his Election Night party.

7:58 p.m.: Just two precincts are still out. With 101 reporting, Castor leads Straz 73 percent to 27 percent.

7:52 p.m.: A picture from David Straz’ watch party:

Philanthropist David Straz meets with Jane Williams at his mayoral watch party on Tuesday at Wright's Gourmet House in Tampa. He lost to former police chief Jane Castor. [ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times]
Philanthropist David Straz meets with Jane Williams at his mayoral watch party on Tuesday at Wright's Gourmet House in Tampa. He lost to former police chief Jane Castor. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]

7:47 p.m.: We’ve yet to hear from Straz.

7:40 p.m.: A look at where Straz won, by our Langston Taylor:

7:37 p.m.: For you diehards who are waiting for the final margin, you may be waiting a while, our Chris O’Donnell reports. (For what it’s worth, these votes could very well decide at least one city council race.)

7:30 p.m.: Castor is speaking at her watch party, Charlie Frago reports.

7:23 p.m.: As more results trickle in, it’s more of the same. With 97 precincts reporting, Castor holds a lead of about 24,500 votes — 73.31 percent to 26.69 percent.

7:17 p.m.: With 91 precincts reporting out of 103, Castor held a nearly 3-to-1 lead over Straz. She was ahead by some 24,000 votes, 37,785 to Straz’ 13,630. That’s a margin of nearly 50 percentage points.

7:15 p.m.: As of 7:15 p.m., the Tampa Bay Times projects former police chief Jane Castor, 59, to be Tampa’s next mayor, easily defeating retired banker David Straz, 76.

7:10 p.m.: Charlie Frago: things are looking bleak for Straz immediately.

7:06 p.m.: Castor jumps out to a huge lead in the early vote count. She’s got three votes for every Straz one, and she leads 74.18 percent to 25.82 percent.

Early voting is more than half the vote, per the Hillsborough SEO.

7:00 p.m.: Polls are now closed! Results time.

6:56 p.m.: With just minutes left until polls close, turnout just crept above 23 percent. Now at 23.11 percent. Stay tuned for results!

6:46 p.m.: A quarter-hour before polls close, it’s worth remembering that it’s not just a mayor that Tampa will be electing today. Three city council seats are also up for grabs. For more on those races, check out our election landing page.

6:37 p.m.: Some final words from the candidates on Twitter:

6:28 p.m.: Turnout update!

With about half an hour until polls close, turnout is at 22.65 percent. 52,150 out of 230,193 have cast a vote.

6:12 p.m.: Mmmmm, Election Night pizza.

6:04 p.m.: We sound like a broken record at this point, but voter turnout has seriously picked up in the post-work hours.

5:55 p.m.: A reader, @carloseats, tweeted us a question: “Do you think the partisan lean (of the electorate) will be a factor? Just wondering.”

It’s sort of unclear how big a deal this will be in the Tampa mayor’s race. The supervisor of election numbers show that a majority of voters in the election are Democrats. Both Straz and Castor are former Republicans who are now Democrats. The campaign, although contentious, has not been particularly partisan — with a few exceptions.

If you’ve got questions for us, tweet at us at @kirbywtweets or @charliefrago or drop the question in the comments below and we’d be happy to answer. Just over an hour until polls close!

5:39 p.m.: Big news! Precinct 346 has seen its first voter. It’s turnout rate is now 1.6 percent.

So now the precinct with the lowest turnout is now precinct 353 at USF’s Marshall Center. Out of 1,608 total eligible voters, just 22 have voted, for an abysmal turnout rate of 1.4 percent.

Precinct 133 at Covenant Life Church on West Bay to Bay still boasts the highest turnout rate, at 42.6 percent.

The conventional wisdom is that a robust south Tampa turnout should be good for Castor. We’ll see in 80 minutes whether that turns out to be true.

5:20 p.m.: More evidence of a post-work voting surge:

5:01 p.m.: With just under two hours until polls close, we have officially surpassed the total number of voters from the primary. 48,973 voted in the primary, and 49,120 have voted in the general election so far.

4:55 p.m.: Hillsborough Elections Supervisor Craig Latimer has a response to our question about the shrinking Tampa voter rolls:

4:41 p.m.: The eagle-eyed Charlie Frago asks another good question: How can voter turnout rate be up from the primary when the total number of voters is slightly down?

Answer: the Tampa voter rolls have shrunk by about 7,000 since the primary, according to the Supervisor of Elections website. So how did that happen? We’re investigating.

4:31 p.m.: A note about a prior update: Charlie Frago, our Tampa city hall reporter, pointed out that although Temple Terrace United Methodist Church is hosting a precinct that has seen 0 voters, it is also home to two other precincts that have seen some turnout. Precincts 342 and 343 have seen 16.4 and 11.7 percent turnout, respectively.

Precinct 346, however, is still waiting on its first voter. I’ve corrected the post below.

4:25 p.m.: Overall turnout numbers in the mayor’s race have officially eclipsed the primary, which saw about 20.6 percent turnout. But general election turnout isn’t exactly blowing anybody away: Just 20.88 percent of voters had returned ballots as of 4:19 p.m.

Just about two and a half hours until polls close.

4:19 p.m.: Here’s how voter turnout rates have looked throughout the day, according to the Supervisor of Elections.

3:44 p.m.: Here are the Tampa precincts with the highest and lowest turnout rates, as of 3:45 p.m. (The city has 103 precincts in total.)

Highest: Covenant Life Church on West Bay to Bay. (Precinct 133.)

644 out of a total 1645 eligible voters have cast their vote at this precinct, good for a city-best 39.1 percent turnout rate. That’s about double the city-wide rate of 20.54 percent.

Lowest: Temple Terrace United Methodist Church on East Busch Boulevard. (Precinct 346.)

Shoutout to the poll workers who volunteered to monitor this voting precinct, which has 64 eligible voters. As of this afternoon, not a single one of them had showed up to cast a vote. That’s a turnout rate, if you’re scoring at home, of zero (0) percent.

There were other precincts hosted at this same location, however. Precincts 342 and 343, also at the church, have seen a smattering of voters. So the day has not been a total lost cause.

3:33 p.m.: A look at the partisan makeup of the electorate. (The race is officially non-partisan, and both Straz and Castor are Democrats.)

2:44 p.m.: Our first turnout update!

According to the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, the mayor’s race is at almost 20 percent turnout. That’s nearly higher than we saw during the entire primary.

That figure has been bolstered by strong early vote and vote by mail turnout. Just over 8200 voters have voted on Election Day — about 18 percent of the electorate. That number will climb throughout the day.

2:15 p.m.: Welcome Tampa voters to the Tampa Bay Times mayoral election live blog. My name is Kirby Wilson, I am a general assignment reporter for the Times, and I will be tracking election developments throughout the day.

It’s already been a fairly eventful Election Day. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who’s termed out of office, sounded off on David Straz’ campaign:

“It was like watching a dumpster fire. I haven’t seen a campaign like that in quite some time,” Buckhorn after casting his ballot for Castor, 59, whom he has endorsed and campaign for.

Buckhorn also said Straz’ campaign staff "should be charged with elder abuse.”

Straz, 76, contended that his campaign has gone “quite well,” when asked about Buckhorn’s comments.

“They all know when I win I intend to take the cheese away from the mice and they don’t like it. So they say bad things,” Straz said outside his polling station.