Congressional candidate James Judge is raffling off AR-15-style rifles tied to fundraising

The Tampa Republican hopes to challenge U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor in the fall.
Tampa Republican James Judge is running for the GOP nod to face U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.
Tampa Republican James Judge is running for the GOP nod to face U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. [ James Judge Campaign ]
Published July 6, 2022|Updated July 7, 2022

TAMPA — James Judge has had a busy few weeks. First, the Tampa Republican was tossed off the ballot for paperwork issues when he filed to run in the 14th Congressional District Republican primary, before he was reinstated by a judge.

Judge then called for another Republican, Jerry Torres of Lakeland, to drop out of the race because of filing issues.

Keeping himself in the news this week, Judge, the owner of a public relations firm, announced Wednesday that he’s raffling off four AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles. The guns are similar to the one law enforcement says was used two days ago in the latest mass shooting outside of Chicago July 4th that killed seven people.

Judge’s release describes them as “extra-controversial,” made by Spike’s Tactical, an Apopka business, and it holds him up as a staunch defender of the Second Amendment.

Spike’s Tactical made news in 2015 for designing a weapon engraved with a Bible verse on the side “and was reportedly designed to not be used by Muslim terrorists,” according to the Judge campaign release.

In the release, Judge criticized incumbent Kathy Castor and other Democrats in Congress for a recent gun control compromise that tightened some rules on gun ownership.

“These laws pushed by Democrats are not only unconstitutional, but will be totally ineffective in preventing gun violence,” said Judge in the release. “My Democrat opponent and the rest of her colleagues know that, but they want to put on a show for their base and pretend they are doing something to end gun violence. Criminals by their very nature don’t follow the law, and taking guns out of the hands of law-abiding Americans won’t change that simple fact,”

The Castor campaign released a statement in response to a request for comment.

“I will do everything possible to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers and the mentally unstable,” it read. “The promotion of military-style assault weapons on our streets is extreme and dangerous. Parents, families and law enforcement leaders are clamoring for common sense gun laws. I strongly support background checks and a ban on assault weapons, and will continue to work in Congress to keep Tampa Bay families safe.”

Judge faces Torres, who has pledged to spend millions of dollars of his own money on the race, and Samar “Sam” Nashagh in the Aug. 23 Republican primary in the district, which takes in most of Tampa and stretches across the bay to waterfront and eastern neighborhoods in St. Petersburg.

Judge’s pitch is for interested gun enthusiasts to consider a $50 donation or an amount of their choice. The contest rules make clear that you don’t need to contribute to the campaign to enter the raffle.

“The radical far left wants to abolish our Second Amendment completely. Not on my watch! My campaign is defying them by giving away four AR-15s,” reads Judge’s statement at an event website.