Mark Sharpe is all in.
The Hillsborough County Commissioner today announced he will challenge U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor for her District 11 congressional seat.
Sharpe, who had previously expressed interest in running for Congress, made his announcement at a small press conference at Buddy Brew coffee shop at 2020 W. Kennedy Blvd.
“We’re in a moment of peril, a moment of crisis in this country,” Sharpe said. “I feel a duty and an obligation to deal with that crisis.”
It will be Sharpe's fourth run for the District 11 House seat. He ran unsuccessfully three times in the 1990s for the same seat.
“I watched my favorite movie last night – Rudy,” Sharpe said. “It took Rudy four times to get into Notre Dame.
“I got a track record of winning, and I intend to win,” Sharpe said.
The Democrat-heavy eleventh district may change as state legislators plan to redraw the district boundaries in the coming months. That redistricting could result in either an increase or decrease of Democrats, a factor not lost on Sharpe. But the commissioner said he is in the race no matter how the boundaries are drawn.
“I’m prepared to win however the map makers draw the map,” he said.
Sharpe was elected as an at-large county commissioner in 2004, filling the seat vacated by former commissioner Pat Frank. He was re-elected in 2006 and 2010. His current term does not expire until 2014.
Sharpe said he has no plans to step down as a county commissioner, and under election law, he can keep his seat while he runs for Congress.
"I'm a bridge builder," Sharpe said. "I believe in bringing people together - not tearing people apart. That's not who I am.
“I want to go (to Washington) working toward a common solution, or else we’re going to be in trouble