Daystarter: Your complete election guide to the Tampa city race; Duke Energy solar farm project controversies; meet the Rays’ star of the future

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
Check for the latest information to start your day with.
Check for the latest information to start your day with.
Published March 5
Updated March 5

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.

• Expect a cool and wet day. There’ll be a 30 percent of morning and afternoon showers, according to the National Weather Service. The morning will see temps start in the upper 50s but it won’t warm up too much, reaching the low 60s. At night, it’ll drop down even lower into the low 40s, making it the coldest night of the week.

• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay including some Fat Tuesday parties tonight to celebrate Mardi Gras and free admission today at the Glazer Children’s Museum.

• It costs money to produce quality journalism. Please support the Tampa Bay Times by buying a digital subscription to Florida’s best newspaper and its redesigned website

• The Tampa city elections are here and the Times has all the angles covered today. For live coverage of the races, check throughout the day. And here’s everything voters need to know about the mayoral and city council races and charter amendments on today’s ballot:

Click here to catch up on all coverage of the issues and the candidates.

Click here to meet the seven candidates running for mayor.

Click here to meet the candidates in City Council District 1.

Click here to meet the candidates in City Council District 2.

Click here to meet the candidates in City Council District 3.

Click here to meet the candidates in City Council District 4.

Click here to meet the candidates in City Council District 5.

Click here to meet the candidates in City Council District 6.

Click here to meet the candidates in City Council District 7.

Click here to check out all 18 proposed amendments to Tampa’s city charter.

• What candidates and amendments did the Times editorial recommend? Click here to find out.

• A sweeping criminal justice reform bill, dubbed the Florida First Step Act after a similar federal law, unanimously passed its first committee in the Florida Senate on Monday. But as Emily Mahoney reports, Democrats have reservations about the bill sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg — especially in how it might affect Amendment 4.

• Though Florida’s midterm election meltdown exposed administrative missteps, it also displayed Florida’s reliance on fallible humans and outdated systems to perform crucial, repetitive and sometimes subjective tasks. How much should Florida trust technology in conducting elections?

A new survey of the Tampa mayor’s race shows former police chief Jane Castor with a sizable lead in a fight likely to be down to two candidates when polls close Tuesday evening. David Straz, Harry Cohen and Dick Greco Jr. appear to be locked in a close battle for a spot in the April 23 runoff.

A London man appears to be free of the AIDS virus after a stem cell transplant, the second success including the “Berlin patient,” doctors reported. Until now, “Berlin patient” Timothy Ray Brown is the only person thought to have been cured of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Hillary Clinton says she won’t run for president in 2020, but vows she’s “not going anywhere.” She ruled out another presidential run during an interview posted Monday by New York TV station News12.

• Lower taxes. Lighter regulations. Fewer lawsuits. Those are the general priorities this session for Associated Industries of Florida, a not-for-profit backed the state’s largest corporations and one of the most influential lobbying groups in the state.

• It’s safe to say that electricity is universally popular, even if there’s little polling on the matter. Hernando County residents have complained that the 800-acre project will be ugly and hurt property values.

• If Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act, Florida should still ensure patients with pre-existing conditions are able to secure health insurance, according to a Senate committee. Members of the Senate Health Policy committee agreed unanimously to advance SB 322, which would require insurers to offer at least one policy that could not refuse or restrict coverage for patients based on their existing medical conditions. Elizabeth Koh writes that the bill would not take effect unless the signature Obama-era healthcare law and its protection of pre-existing conditions is repealed or struck down.

• Gov. Ron DeSantis’ latest appointment has a familiar name in Florida Republican politics: Rubio. Steve Contorno reports that the governor has appointed Mario Rubio, the older brother of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, to a high-ranking position in Florida’s job creation department, making him the new Director of Community Development. He’ll be in charge of millions worth of federal and state grants while making $115,000 a year.

• Tampa International Airport expects up to 20,000 passengers more than on a typical day. At St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, road construction and parking changes abound, so plan ahead. College students began arriving this week, and Tampa Bay area airports are bracing for what could be their busiest spring break ever.

• For the latest in Florida politics, make sure to check The Buzz.

• The student senate at University of South Florida St. Petersburg has joined the debate over how to consolidate USF’s three campuses. Megan Reeves reports that the students want USF’s leaders to keep strong leadership on smaller campuses in St. Petersburg and Sarasota — and criticized the USF Tampa Faculty Senate for opposing that plan.

• For the latest education coverage, make sure to read The Gradebook. And check out the Gradebook podcast as education reporter Jeffrey Solochek leads a weekly discussion about Florida education.

• A federal jury set a new precedent in Hillsborough County when it convicted the man who sold the deadly opiods that led to a 2017 overdose. Dan Sullivan explains how the case unfolded as prosecutors try to combat overdoses by going after drug dealers.

• In case you didn’t know, we are in the midst of Tampa Bay Beer Week, and our resident bar fly suggests you try Crank IPA. The hotttest trend in IPAs is a moderately bitter, balanced East Coast IPA boasting massive citrus aromas and flavors resulting from the use of new varieties of fruit-forward hops. An outstanding local example: Crank IPA from St. Petersburg’s Cycle Brewing.

• Rest up this Labor Day weekend. You’re going to need extra energy for the brutal night Slipknot has planned for you in September. The masked metal madmen have announced plans for an extensive summer tour with only one stop in Florida, and that will be Tampa. Pop music critic Jay Cridlin has the details here.

• Read the Tampa Bay Times online Sports page with the latest news about the Lightning, Bucs, Rays, Bulls, Gators, Noles and high school sports.

• Spring training is here. Plan your spring training trips by using the Times’ handy 2019 spring training guide for Grapefruit League schedules, maps and daily planners.

The Bulls go cold down the stretch in a 57-47 loss at the Yuengling Center. To help honor USF fifth-year senior Laura Ferreira, sidelined the last two months with a heart condition, Connecticut agreed to surrender an uncontested layup to the Portugal native to start Monday night’s regular season finale.

• Tampa Bay’s 2018-19 season rivals some of the best in NHL history, but it insists its oblivious. It’s hard not to chuckle when the Lightning deflects its own accomplishments like Andrei Vasilevskiy blocks shots on net.

• Meet the smooth-swinging, switch-hitting shortstop considered the next great Rays prospect. Marc Topkin introduces you to the wonder of Wander Franco, who just turned 18 and is already among the top-ranked young talents in the game. Baseball America ranked him as the No. 4 prospect in the game and ESPN’s Keith Law put him third, behind only Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vlad Guerrero Jr., who are both ticketed for the majors this year. had Franco second overall.

• Get the latest Rays’ spring training news from Topkin and follow him throughout baseball season on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays .

• For the latest on the Lightning’s quest for the Stanley Cup, click here throughout the season and follow beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Mari Faiello at @faiello_mari.

• There are a lot of things that separate a Super Bowl-dynasty from the Patriots from a struggling franchise like the Bucs. Thomas Bassinger writes about one important difference: How New England uses compensatory draft picks compared to Tampa Bay.

• The Bucs have a new head coach and the NFL draft is just weeks away. Keep up with the latest offseason changes by following the Times’ Bucs page which is just a click away at For the latest team news on @Twitter, follow Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and fellow beat writer Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard.

• From the food editor: Winning recipes: Try these pineapple thyme linzer cookies, inspired by a cookie that was declared the best in New York City.