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Alan Grayson, Pam Keith to headline all-star Tiger Bay

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

At least two of the three Democratic candidates for Marco Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat will be in Tampa February 19. The Tampa Tiger Bay Club is hosting Congressman Alan Grayson and attorney Pam Keith for their monthly luncheon.

Congressman Patrick Murphy was invited, but has not yet confirmed whether or not he will attend.

Grayson currently represents Florida’s 9th Congressional District covering parts of Central Florida. He was elected in 2012 after defeating Republican Todd Long. He then won re-election against Carol Platt in 2014.

Prior to this term, Grayson served as the Congressman for Florida’s 8th District, but lost his re-election bid in 2010 to Republican David Webster.

Grayson is known for being an unfiltered, out-spoken voice whose comments are often controversial. He once referred to a reporter, Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith, as a sh*tting robot – whatever that means. He compared the Tea Party to the Ku Klux Klan and referred to a lobbyist as a “K Street whore.”

Keith is an attorney with a law degree from Boston College. She also holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the University of California in rhetoric and communication.

Keith serves as a board member of Faith, Love, Hope, Charity and is a Boys and Girls Club mentor in Riviera Beach. She most recently worked as senior labor and employment counsel for Florida Power and Light and NextEra Energy.

According to the latest polls, Grayson is leading the three-way Primary despite being grossly out-funded by Murphy. Murphy has party backing and access to establishment money.

With Keith widely considered the underdog, it’s likely focus at Tiger Bay will be on Grayson. The winner of this race will likely face Congressman David Jolly – the frontrunner in the GOP primary for the same seat. Also in that race are Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez Cantera, Ron DeSantis and Todd Wilcox.

The seat is a must-win for Republicans who will be fighting to maintain a majority in the U.S. Senate. The seat is currently held by a Republican.

But the race also represents an opportunity for Democrats to re-take control of the Senate. Expect questions from Tiger Bay members to revolve around electability issues including Grayson’s often bombastic attitude.

Tiger Bay members are well-known for not beating around the bush with their questions. Grayson and Keith will likely face some tough ones during the Q&A.

Tampa Tiger Bay meetings are held at Maestro’s at the Straz Center. Reservations for members and non-members is available on the group’s website. They’re expected a sell-out and recommend reserving a seat soon.

Only members are allowed to ask questions of the guests.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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