NEW PORT RICHEY — The big yellow stickers said: “You BET I’m with BETTY for U.S. Senate.” On this day, they could have said: “You can COUNT on KATHY.”
On a Saturday afternoon at New Port Richey’s downtown library, the West Pasco Democratic Club was awaiting the arrival of U.S. Senate candidate Betty Castor. A gathering of some 75 members, a number of them seniors, was on hand.
Several wore caps designating military service. A middle-aged guy sported a T-shirt emblazoned with “Regime Change Begins At Home.” Some wanted to tell Castor that they didn’t much care for the current Administration’s non-support for the expansion of veterans’ disability benefits. Most just wanted to hear what Florida’s pre-eminent female political icon had to say to this Main Street (Democrat) assemblage.
What they got was a pretty good surrogate, Kathy Castor. She’s articulate, enthusiastic and hardly hustings-challenged. She was pinch-hitting because her mom had been called out of town — to Glassboro, N.J. — to be with her dying, 85-year-old mother, Gladys Evans.
Kathy Castor, to be sure, is no neophyte. In fact, over the last decade the current Hillsborough County commissioner has had more experience running for office than her mom. Betty, of course, was busy being president of the University of South Florida and president and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
In addressing the gathering, Kathy highlighted her mom’s bio, reminded everybody that there has never been a U.S. senator from the Tampa Bay area, pointed out that her mother’s timing has always been “impeccable” and served up some campaign boilerplate.
Her mom, she said, looks at Washington and “sees a lack of policy direction, a lack of vision and a lack of clear understanding of how the federal government affects the lives of people