TAMPA — Mayoral candidate Jane Castor, who spent 31 years in the Tampa Police Department before retiring as chief in 2015, got the city's police union endorsement Thursday.
"Jane Castor is a partner we need in the mayor's office," said Abe Carmack, president of the Tampa Police Benevolent Association. "She is exactly the leader that Tampa needs."
Castor said she knew some would think the union's nod was a foregone conclusion.
"I'll tell you what, it was not an easy process," she said.
The union board interviewed all seven mayoral candidates, but unanimously picked Castor, Carmack said. The union has about 1,000 members, 250 of whom live in Tampa.
The police union was the last of the city's three bargaining units to endorse a mayoral candidate. Last week, the firefighter and city worker's unions endorsed City Council member Mike Suarez.
The police support was the second major endorsement won by Castor this week. On Wednesday, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik endorsed her.
On the same day, former Florida governor and U.S. senator Bob Graham officially backed Suarez, who used to work for him as an aide.
City Council member Harry Cohen announced three endorsements Thursday: former mayor Sandy Freedman, Clerk of the Circuit Court Pat Frank, and Public Defender Julianne Holt.
Former county commissioner Ed Turanchik recently announced endorsments from Hillsborough County Commissioners Mariella Smith and Pat Kemp.
Retired banker and philanthropist David Straz has netted the support of 20 local unions.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has yet to weigh in on his pick to succeed him in the March 5 election. He said recently that having the support of the city's unions can be helpful.
He got the firefighter's support in his 2011 victory and says their door-knocking and "boots on the ground" was critical to his campaign. The police union is also powerful with statewide campaign fundraising power, a point acknowledged by Carmack.
The state police union also endorsed Castor on Thursday and its president attended the announcement at the local chapter's North Tampa headquarters.
"You'd like that good housekeeping seal of approval from public safety unions. You can win without them, but it's helpful to have them. They can be very, very helpful," Buckhorn said in December.
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