TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - A day after Tampa's mayoral election narrowed the race down to two candidates, the second phase quickly heated up Wednesday as the race now heads for a run-off next month.
Former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor received the first post-election endorsement. Current Mayor Bob Buckhorn threw his support behind the woman who was his police chief for six of his eight years in office.
The endorsement was not unexpected, given long-standing relationship between Castor and Buckhorn. But the former police chief said she isn't taking his support for granted, nor is she taking for granted the huge amount of support she received Tuesday when she got 48 percent of the vote.
Straz shrugged off Buckhorn's announcement and released a letter he received from the mayor in 2011, in which Buckhorn praised him as being, "one of Tampa's most beloved community leaders."
Straz also shrugged off some calls for him to end his campaign, after eking out a second-place finish with 15.5 percent of the vote.
"I would not consider conceding under any circumstances because of the people of Tampa deserve having the best for their mayor," he said, adding there are a lot of votes up for grabs. "We expect to get a lot of those votes because we expect to appeal to the people of Tampa and tell them what they can look forward to in my administration."
The multi-millionaire businessman was also unapologetic about running an expensive campaign, which has cost about $3 million, much of it out-of-pocket.
Straz explained why he's willing to spend so much money.
"So much money is relative and the people that don't like spending that much money are the people that don't have it," he said. "I'm happy to spend it in my love for the city of Tampa and I think my fellow citizens deserve having the best and they need somebody with substantial dollars into the campaign, somebody that believes in it and then somebody that will perform for them later on when he gets elected."
Straz was then asked if he's saying his wealth makes him the most qualified choice.
"That's not what I meant," he said, adding he'll spend, "whatever it takes to win."
Straz also said he won't change his strategy, despite critics calling his campaign too negative. Castor said she's prepared for that.
"I certainly will defend myself, but I'm going to remain positive, just as I have," she said.
The former police chief expects to receive several more endorsements, potentially from several candidates who didn't make it to the run-off. Straz said he believes he'll receive some endorsements too, but wouldn't elaborate.