Sen. Bennett confirms he’ll run for Congress

jajones1@bradenton.comMay 3, 2011 

MANATEE -- Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, confirmed Monday that he will run for the 11th Congressional District seat held by Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor.

“I’m going to do it,” said Bennett, president pro tempore of the Florida Senate, who has been candid in recent months about the possibility he would seek a congressional seat.

“My wife Dee and I have been discussing it for a long time,” he said. “I have had a lot of people approach me and wanted me to run.”

Bennett lives in southern Manatee in the 13th Congressional District, represented by fellow Republican Vern Buchanan.

With the upcoming redistricting mandated after the 2010 Census, Bennett said he believes the 11th District, which includes portions of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties, will be redrawn to include more of Manatee.

But even if the redistricting doesn’t extend into southern Manatee, Bennett said he will run.

“My wife and I are willing to move if we have to do that,” he said.

Technically, however, Bennett would not have to live within the district to run for the seat.

The only residency requirement in the U.S. Constitution for U.S. senators or U.S. representatives is that they be a resident of the state when elected, and a U.S. resident for seven years.

Bennett cannot make his candidacy official until June but said he believes his odds of beating Castor are pretty good.

Kathy Castor won election to the District 11 seat in 2006, and has been handily re-elected twice.

The Bradenton Herald could not reach the Kathy Castor for Congress campaign Monday evening.

Her election website touts her as “the Tampa Bay area’s champion for jobs and economic recovery.

"She continues to stand up for middle class families and small business owners to provide equal opportunity for all to succeed.”

Bennett was elected to the Florida House in 2000, and two years later won election to the Florida Senate. He has been re-elected twice since and is now term limited in the Florida Senate.

Middle-of-the-road Democrats and fiscally conservative Republicans might be attracted to a Bennett candidacy, he predicted.

Other strengths include being straight forward, a track record of getting things done, and being involved in the community, Bennett said.

A native of Brainerd, Minn., Bennett has lived in Florida since 1955. He is a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War and graduate of Drake University.

He is an electrical contractor and a businessman. Among his holdings are Linger Lodge and the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.

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