US House District 11 hopefuls talk foreign policy

08/20/10 Kate Bradshaw
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Primary season has hit the final stretch. The Senate and Governor’s Races have captured the spotlight in a big way. But how the race for the US House’s District Eleven seat turns out may offer a key glimpse into the American psyche. Democratic incumbent Kathy Castor faces conservative Democrat Tim Curtis in the primary. He points to today’s grim unemployment statistics as reason to challenge the Washington establishment.

Today all six candidates for the US House’s District Eleven seat spoke at a Tiger Bay Club of Tampa forum. The four Republicans facing a Tuesday primary are also pointing to the dismal jobs outlook as evidence that Congress isn’t working for everyday Americans. Like his GOP opponents, Retired Army colonel Mike Prendergast decried federal spending and touted private sector job creation.

The pallid economy has long been a linchpin for candidates who are riding the anti-incumbent wave. Yet foreign policy hasn’t exactly fallen by the wayside for those vying for Capitol Hill. Take Cuba: A bill that would open up travel between the US and that country has been introduced in the House. One Tiger Bay Club member asked each candidate their opinion of it. Democratic incumbent Kathy Castor supports it. Her opponent Tony Curtis said he supports it – to a degree.

Republican Tommy Castellano, who like Curtis and the three other GOP contenders is a political newcomer, said travel ban isn’t fair to families split between the US and Cuba.

Republican Eddie Adams agrees. But the other two GOP District 11 hopefuls say they want to keep the ban. .

Such a diverse set of candidate backgrounds also made for a wide array of takes on the question of whether they support keeping 50 thousand so-called advisors in Iraq in the wake of this week’s withdrawal of the last combat troops stationed in that country. Incumbent Kathy Castor says she would not.

Republican Eddie Adams said sending tax dollars overseas to protect citizens of other countries is wrong.

Castor’s opponent, conservative Democrat Tim Curtis, said the bases are the only way to keep terrorism off US soil.

But whether they saw the US military might as an issue of fiscal or national security, none would go so far as to say they would support a surtax that would explicitly fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Castor said while she doesn’t support a surtax, she wants to see the federal government put an end to spending money it doesn’t have on wars.

Gary Doljin was the Tiger Bay club member who asked about the surtax. He said while he thought Castor’s answer made the most sense to him, he wasn’t satisfied with what any of the candidates had to say.

Largely Democratic, District Eleven is shaped a little like a scorpion. It encompasses much of Tampa, Temple Terrace, Ruskin, parts of Bradenton and Palmetto, Tierra Verde, and the southern tip of St. Petersburg.

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