Castor a step closer to running for Senate

Former USF President Betty Castor said earlier this week she is putting together an exploratory committee that will help gauge her chances of winning U.S. Sen. Bob Graham’s seat, should he vacate it in pursuit of the presidency.

Experts say that Castor could have an edge in such an election, as she is currently the only Democratic candidate who has won a statewide campaign.

“The fact there is a viable female candidate out there will certainly energize some of my base and some of the base of the Democratic Party,” Castor told the Associated Press. “I hope that’s what happens. The fact I’ve run statewide, I think, is an advantage.”

Castor, 62, served three terms as a state senator and was Florida’s Commissioner of Education from 1987 to 1993. In 1999, she left USF to become president of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas and U.S. Reps. Peter Deutsch, Allen Boyd and Alcee Hastings have all expressed interest in the Democratic nomination, particularly if Graham chooses not to seek a fourth term if his presidential bid fails.

Two Republicans have already announced their campaigns for the seat. U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, of West Palm Beach, has raised significantly more money than former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum, a central Florida resident who lost a Senate race in 2000 to Bill Nelson.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.