Kathy Castor not ruling out future run for higher office

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Whether or not Marco Rubio opts to seek another term for his Senate seat next year, speculation has already begun to determine which Florida Democrats may compete for their party’s nomination.

Along with Alan Grayson, Patrick Murphy and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, another member of the state’s congressional delegation has had her name thrown in the mix in the past few weeks: Kathy Castor.

The Tampa-based Democrat was easily re-elected in November for the fifth time since winning the open seat in 2006. If she wishes, the 48-year-old congresswoman could probably hold her seat another couple of decades in her overwhelmingly Democratic drawn gerrymandered district.

There also has been speculation she could be considering a run for governor in 2018 as well.

On Tuesday, Florida Politics asked Castor whether she’s considering a run for higher office.

She didn’t completely rule it out.

“I love the state of Florida,” she said as she walked toward an aide’s car driving her to Tampa International Airport after concluding a press conference on the DHS funding situation. “And I am very concerned about the direction of the state. And I love public service. It’s very rewarding. Can I have a greater impact where I am? I have been building seniority on the most important committee to the state of Florida (the Energy and Commerce Committee). But I want the best for all my neighbors and I want the best for the state, so I wouldn’t rule anything out. But I’m not planning anything.”

Castor defeated four other Democrats in the 2006 primary election, taking over the seat that had been held for the previous decade by Jim Davis, who stepped down to run as the Democratic nominee for governor against Republican Charlie Crist. She has never seriously been challenged since, and handily defeated Republican Mike Pendergast in 2010, the only time the Hillsborough County Republican Party put any energy into defeating her.

Prior to Davis’ election to the seat in 1996, the late Sam Gibbons represented the Tampa-centric seat in Washington for 34 years.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.