Albert “Al” Fox Jr., Tampa’s longstanding advocate for normalizing Cuban American relations, has officially filed to run in the 2022 Senate race.
Fox had hinted at a run earlier this summer when he formed an exploratory committee, but announced he had filed the paperwork to run in the Democratic primary on Monday.
In Tampa, Fox, 77, founded the nonprofit Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation. Through that organization, he took a number of politicians, religious leaders and others to Cuba in an attempt to inform people about what the island was really like.
He previously ran for Congress in 2006 and lost to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. In that race, another notable member of the Tampa Cuban community printed signs that said “Give Fidel Castro a voice in the U.S. Congress: Vote Al Fox.”
Despite the pushback he got on his stance over the years, Fox said he believes the Cuban government is committing human rights violations no worse than Saudi Arabia or China, which Americans get access to and trade with. He said relying on a Cold War policy hurts Cubans.
Incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio, on the other hand, sharply criticized former President Barack Obama when he moved to reopen some relationships with Cuba.
Though Fox is most known in Florida for his work around Cuba, he said he’s passionate about immigration reform, climate change, health care for all, combatting China’s influence and military registration, according to a press release from his campaign.
Fox grew up in Tampa and later worked in Washington, D.C., as a senior congressional staff assistant in the Senate and House of Representatives.