U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, is backing Mike Alvarez in Tampa's state House District 62 race, and objecting to a mailer by Alvarez's opponent, Susan Valdes, that Castor says implies she is backing Valdes.
In a news release, Castor says the mailer is "is inconsistent with Florida law," which makes it illegal for a candidate to "represent" an endorsement without written permission. She said the mailer "implies my endorsement of her campaign."
In what has become a hard-fought Democratic primary, Alvarez, a construction company executive, Marine veteran and Democratic Party activist, faces Valdes, a Hillsborough County School Board member who left her seat to run for the House.
Chris Cano, a marijuana rights activist, has also filed. With no Republican running, the Aug. 28 Democratic primary will decide the winner.
Castor called Alvarez "the clear choice to represent the heart of Tampa" and "a true public servant who will fight for better public schools." Her congressional district takes in all of state House District 62, a heavily Democratic and Hispanic district in West Tampa and Town 'N Country.
The mailer shows photos of Valdes with both Castor and Hillary Clinton. It doesn't use their names or specifically say either has endorsed Valdes.
Castor stopped short of calling the mailer "illegal."
"I won't play judge," she said, but added, "She is wrong to imply that I am supporting her campaign and it's important to play by the rules."
Election law expert Mark Herron noted the mailer contains no explicit claim of an endorsement, but said, "A picture could be viewed as 'representing'" one. Herron said he could find no cases or opinions clarifying the question.