Katherine Anne "Kathy" Castor (born August 20, 1966) is the U.S. Representative for Florida's 14th congressional district, serving in Congress since 2007. She is a member of the Democratic Party.
The district covers the city of Tampa and parts of Hillsborough County.
Castor was born in Miami. Her mother, Betty Castor (née Elizabeth Bowe), is a former University of South Florida President, a former Hillsborough County Commissioner, a former Florida State Senator, a former Florida Education Commissioner, and a 2004 United States Senate candidate. Her father, Donald F. "Don" Castor, was a Hillsborough County judge and died in April, 2013. Castor was raised in Tampa and graduated from Chamberlain High School. She holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Emory University (1988) and a J.D. from Florida State University College of Law (1991). She is a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority.
Castor began her legal career as Assistant General Counsel to the Florida Department of Community Affairs. She is the former President of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers and partner in a statewide law firm. In 2005, Castor was named as the Tampa Bay Business Journal's Woman of the Year in government.
Early political career
Castor served on the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners from 2002 through 2006. Her primary focus was on health care. She worked to stop seniors and other patients in Hillsborough County’s health care plan from being forced into HMOs.
U.S. House of Representatives
- Committee on the Budget
- Committee on Energy and Commerce
- Subcommittee on Energy and Power
- Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (Bailout Bill)
Castor was the only Democratic member of Congress from Florida to vote against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, also known as the "bailout bill," stating that: "After thoughtful consideration and review, I voted against President Bush's $700 billion bailout. The Bush plan does not provide sufficient help to middle-class families in the housing squeeze or taxpayer protections." Instead, she championed programs such as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and said it was "the lifeline that really saved the economy." In Tampa Bay, Recovery Act funds were invested in transportation, education, housing, research, law enforcement and various local infrastructure improvements. The I-4/Crosstown Connector received the largest Recovery Act investment in Tampa Bay, with $105 million to make the completion of the project possible and it opened to the public in 2014.
Since her first congressional campaign in 2006, Castor has supported a withdrawal of U.S. troops out of Iraq and redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Her first committee assignment was the House Armed Services. In 2007, Castor voted to redeploy U.S. troops out of Iraq.
Castor has called the GI Bill for the 21st Century that passed in 2008 despite strenuous opposition by President Bush "one of the most important pieces of legislation that I have cosponsored." The bill restored full, four-year college scholarships to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars from benefits at the time that were only paying about 70 percent of a public college education and 30 percent of a private college education for returning veterans. The legislation also allowed veterans to transfer those benefits to family members.
Castor was outspoken on the cuts that the 2013 Republican sequester would create for Head Start programs as well as research programs at Moffitt Cancer Care and University of South Florida. In 2014, she supported a bipartisan budget agreement that included restoring Head Start funding with an increase of $1 billion over the sequester level and $612 million over the 2013 enacted level.
Castor has been interested in health care since her first elected position on the Hillsborough County Commission, where she defended the need to fund the county’s indigent health care plan. In 2008, Castor successfully championed legislation to allow low-income families with overdue medical bills to still be eligible for student loans. Kathy Castor has served on the House Energy & Commerce Committee since 111th Congress. As a member of the Health Subcommittee, she was instrumental in ensuring that health care reform worked for Florida families, businesses, and university medical and nursing colleges. Since the Affordable Care Act passed, Castor has worked tirelessly to educate neighbors about new patient protections and rights, and enrollment in the new marketplace exchange. She has been critical of Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Florida Legislature for not accepting more than $50 billion in federal funding to expand Medicaid to provide health care access to more than 1 million Floridians. With the assistance of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals, she and Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington founded the bipartisan Children’s Health Care Caucus, dedicated to building support for ideas that improve the quality of care for children and their access to the quality care.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Castor supports comprehensive immigration reform. Castor applauded President Obama announcement in November 2014 on immigration accountability executive action.
Castor supports same sex marriage. In 2005, while serving on the Hillsborough County Commission, she was the lone commissioner to vote against a resolution to ban gay pride activities and events. In 2013, the Hillsborough County Commission unanimously reversed its position on the gay pride ban.
In 2013, she filed a historic Amicus Brief in support of the Supreme Court striking down Section 3 of the defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and applauded the Supreme Court when it made its ruling to do so later that year.
Castor supports normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba. She visited the island in April 2013.
The House seat in the district became open when five-term Democrat Jim Davis (D) chose to run for governor (he lost to Charlie Crist in November).
Castor won the September 5, 2006 Democratic primary—the real contest in what has long been the only safe Democratic district on Florida's Gulf Coast—defeating challengers Al Fox, Lesley "Les" Miller, Scott Farrell, and Michael Steinberg. She received 54% of the vote, a full 20 points ahead of state Senate Minority Leader Les Miller in the five-way race.
Eddie Adams Jr., an architect and former hospital laboratory technologist, was the only Republican to file. Castor was endorsed by the pro-choice political action committee EMILY's List, the League of Conservation Voters, Oceans Champions, The Tampa Tribune, The St. Petersburg Times and The Bradenton Herald.
Castor handily won the 2006 November general election, 70% to 30%--becoming the first woman to represent Tampa and St. Petersburg in Congress, as well as only the third representative of this St. Petersburg/Tampa-based district since its creation in 1963 (it was the 10th District from 1963–67, the 6th from 1967–73, the 7th from 1973–93 and has been the 11th since 1993).
Castor was reelected in November 2008 71% to 29% in a rematch with Adams.
Castor was challenged by Republican nominee Mike Prendergast, a career military officer who retired in 2008 as a Colonel in the United States Army. Castor was reelected in November 2010 with 60% of the vote to Prendergast's 40%. Though Castor won convincingly, it was still the best showing for a Republican in this district since 1994.
After the 2010 census, Florida gained two more congressional seats. As a result, Castor's district was redistricted from the 11th to the 14th. It was no less Democratic than its predecessor, and Castor won reelection with 70.2 percent of the vote over Republican E. J. Otero.