Retired Air Force Colonel to Challenge Kathy Castor

Posted October 26, 2011 at 8:38pm

Do a handful of Tampa Republicans know something everyone else in Florida doesn’t?

Rep. Kathy Castor (D), whom even Sunshine State GOP operatives expect to be safe this cycle, picked up another opponent this week. There are now at least three Republicans vying to take her on next year.

Retired Air Force Col. Evelio Otero Jr. announced his bid Tuesday for the 11th district seat. He’s a credible candidate who has a respected Florida political consultant, Brett Doster, working with him. Otero hired former state Rep. Deborah Tamargo (R) as his campaign manager.

After 28 years of working in intelligence and planning for the Air Force, Otero comes to the race as a political outsider. In an interview, he explained he had planned to retire to the private sector but was dismayed when he looked into Castor’s voting record.

He admits the district is primarily a “Democratic enclave” but notes the redistricting process might change the lines substantially. About a third of the current 11th is Hispanic.

He joins a GOP field that includes Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who ran for the seat in the 1990s.