By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
An advocate of opening up relations with Cuba joins a crowded Democratic field.
TAMPA - Al Fox, a lobbyist best known for advocating opening up relations with Cuba, has quietly joined the crowded field of Democrats aiming to succeed Jim Davis in Congress.
The 61-year-old Tampa native and Washington lobbyist talked of running months ago, but said he held off while local and national Republicans talked to him about running as a Republican.
"The thinking was, "let the Democrats battle it out,' said Fox, who liked the idea of being in the majority party. "But at the end of the day, there was no way I could tell the national Republican party what they wanted to hear on Cuba."
Fox is founder of the The Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation and a strong advocate for ending the U.S. embargo on Cuba. In 2002, he got local attention when he arranged for a Tampa Bay delegation that included then-Mayor Dick Greco to fly to Cuba and meet Fidel Castro.
Fox has said Cuba will be one of several top priorities, and that as a longtime Washington hand he best understands how the system works.
In a congressional district that includes parts of Hillsborough and South Pinellas, Fox faces a tough primary. No Republican is running, but Democrats include Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor; Tampa lawyer Scott Farrell; Tampa lawyer Michael Steinberg; and state Sen. Les Miller.
He quietly filed his campaign papers in late August.
Fox's first campaign reports are due in October.