The Bay and the 'Burg Archives - Page 2 of 561 - SaintPetersBlog

City of Tampa to host public meetings regarding potential expansion of streetcar

The city of Tampa and the Florida Dept. of Transportation are currently conducting a $1.6 million study to explore the idea of expanding the Tampa Historic Streetcar, a system that has previously been considered something of a white elephant since it began operating 15 years ago.

As part of that study, city officials will hold the first of three public meetings next month to get input from the community.

With no prospects for any new sources of funding to pay for transit on the horizon, FDOT announced in 2015 that they would conduct the study in conjunction with the city of Tampa, evaluating the potential extension of the streetcar system from its current western terminus at Whiting and Franklin Street in downtown, up through to the Marion Transit Center and potentially to Tampa Heights.

The first meeting with the public will take place on Tuesday, March 7 at the Tampa Bay History Museum from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. City officials are calling it a “community brainstorm session” where residents will hear about the planning process and then provide input back to the planning team about the purpose of the project and about the needs of the downtown Tampa community for transportation options.

“Our urban core demands more transportation options. The streetcar system is an underutilized asset and we are taking a hard look at its future. A potential extension of the system through downtown could open up connections to new neighborhoods, jobs, and entertainment.,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “The goal of this planning process is to take the first step towards creating another viable transportation choice for Tampa.”

Other meetings are scheduled for April 4 and May 2. The first phase of the study is expected to be completed early this summer.  If the results of the feasibility analysis are positive, a second phase will be initiated to select a preferred alternative and refine plans and strategies.

The $2.7 million Historic Streetcar system opened in 2002 and has struggled ever since to build ridership. Part of the problem some official said is the lack of frequency of routes. Traditionally the service doesn’t begin until 11 a.m. , but there is a pilot project that has been ongoing for months experimenting with beginning service at 7 a.m.

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Mike Suarez sounds like he’s running for higher office during speech to Hillsborough Democrats

In what could be a preview of things to come, Tampa City Council Chairman Mike Suarez promoted his prescriptions for a progressive city during a speech to the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Council.

The mood were notably different than the last time Suarez addressed the DEC in the same venue. In early December, he and several of his City Council colleagues were denied the opportunity to vote in the local party’s reorganization meeting, which led to Suarez angrily taking to the floor to defend his bona fides as a Democrat.

All of that was forgiven Monday night, however, as Suarez owned the floor in his ten minute address.

Beginning by discussing how he had recently participated in a meeting with organized labor, he quickly segued into referring to his own proposal that the council passed in 2015 that calls for all new contracts with Community Redevelopment Agencies to require that twenty percent of jobs are fulfilled by apprentices.

“What has happened over the past year, and what has happened in last November’s election, is that we need to make sure to get as many folks as ready and able to work, because right now having small minimum jobs are not enough to carry us over. We need more high paying living wage jobs and until we have that, we’re not going to get out of the hole that we’re in,” he said.

Suarez then switched on a dime to talking about the Council’s upcoming vote on an ordinance that would ban mental health professionals from practicing conversion therapy on minors. The issue was workshopped last week and will come back for a vote on March 2.

“How many people here who are gay, and have converted to something else?” he asked the crowd. “If you are born gay, you’re gay. If you’re born straight, you are straight. If you are someone who wants to covert for whatever reason, that is your prerogative as a human being, and your human rights should not be denied, because someone is going to tell you that you have a psychological problem, when in fact, you were born the way that you were.”

The proposal is opposed by conservative activist Terry Kemple, who vows that the city will be subjected to a lawsuit if it passes. Others, including a Democrat in the audience Monday night who said it wasn’t a psychiatric issue, have questioned the need for such policies. Nevertheless, the all Democratic City Council appears determine to pass the proposal.

“We’re not going to stand for it in this city,” Suarez continued. “We are about uplifting people. We are not about degrading people. We are about making sure of promoting people who want to be the best person that they possibly can be for them, for the city. Everyone knows we are a progressive city, a city that looks forward and doesn’t look back.”

He then talked about immigration and sanctuary cities, saying that the city of Tampa wasn’t going to do anything that make immigrants feel unwelcome.

Last month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would strip federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities. Bob Buckhorn has said repeatedly that while detaining undocumented immigrants is a function of Hillsborough County and not the city of Tampa, he will not direct members of the Tampa Police Department to help Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) to round up the undocumented. Suarez used the opportunity to bash Republicans, who he said were hypocritical in not standing up for local control.

“I know that what Republicans love to talk about is like to talk about unfunded mandates – don’t put a burden from the federal government onto the  cities and states,” he said. “Let me just tell you something, when they say ICE is going to have to use our police force or our sheriff deputies or our jails in order to capture people who they believe should be sent back to their country of origin, that is an unfunded mandate, and let me tell you, we won’t stand for that here in the city of Tampa,” eliciting another whopping round of applause.

“We want to make sure that our police force, those men and women who work hard for the city of Tampa, have the tools necessary to fight crime and catch criminals, and not to worry about whether or not someone has an expired tag or a license that’s been expired who may be from another country. To me, that is unconscionable.”

Suarez used that same adjective to describe the Florida Legislature’s reluctance to support a proposal backed by Buckhorn, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and plenty of others in the Tampa Bay area at least that would change state law to allow large cities to hold their own tax referendums. Current Florida only allows counties to have that authority. It’s an issue that has been discussed for several years now, as those cities have shown much larger support for public transit referendums than in the surrounding counties.

However, whether anybody locally is pushing Florida lawmakers to pass such a law isn’t clear just weeks before the regular legislative session commences. Nevertheless, it’s another talking point that Democrats have maintained over the past year on the campaign trail.

“We have a Republican legislature that loves to talk about freedom, they love to talk about what’s right for you and your home, but they refuse to let you have the freedom to vote for your own transit needs, and to me, that is wrong,” Suarez said.

Suarez is one of more than half a dozen serious names being discussed as a potential mayoral candidate in Tampa two years from now, when Buckhorn is term limited out of office.  He has never indicated that he isn’t interested in the position, and his short speech on Monday night seemed if anything a preview of the message he might carry when that campaign gets serious, which won’t really happen until after the 2018 midterm elections.

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Gus Bilirakis holding third health care town hall in Wesley Chapel

Tampa Bay Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis will host another public listening session on the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday in Wesley Chapel.

During the two-hour event, Bilirakis said he would take feedback and ideas from constituents about the direction of the U.S. health care system, including the repeal and replacement of the ACA.

The six-term congressman has held similar sessions in Palm Harbor and New Port Richey this month, both of which packed with supporters of the health care law angered at Congressional Republicans’ plan to repeal the law without a replacement.

Following those events, Bilirakis signed on to a bill that would keep the ACA provisions protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions after its repeal.

“I heard a clear message from my constituents at recent town halls: people with pre-existing conditions need the peace of mind of knowing that they can get — and keep — health care,” Bilirakis said in a statement. “At events in Palm Harbor and New Port Richey, I listened to folks share personal stories about themselves and loved ones who were denied access to coverage because of a chronic illness. I made a promise to gather input from the people of Florida’s 12th District about the future of our nation’s health care, and I am keeping that promise with this legislation. We will protect those with pre-existing conditions and put in place a health care system that works for everybody.”

The Wesley Chapel will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Wesley Chapel High School Performing Arts Center on Wells Road. The event is open to the public.

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HART poised to to soon select marketing agency

Hillsborough Regional Transit Authority (HART) CEO Katharine Eagan says that the transit agency’s marketing budget became a budget casualty when the Great Recession reduced funding years ago, but HART’s evaluation committee will soon be selecting a marketing agency to help with their marketing and communication strategic plan in 2017.

“We are in the active evaluation of a firm for a communications plan,” Eagan told members of the Finance and Audit Committee meeting on Monday.

The announcement came a day after the Tampa Bay Times reported on the desultory state of public transit in the Tampa Bay area. The story reported that out of the top 30 largest metro areas in the U.S., the Tampa Bay area ranks 29th in four of six ways that the government measures public transit coverage and usage.

Listening to the fact that nearly a third of the agency’s fleet of buses have transitioned from diesel to ones that run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), board member Mickey Jacobs said it would be beneficial to get the word out about their CNG fleet, which reduces thousands of dollars in annual fuels costs and significantly limits harmful emissions.”It’s a story that we need to tell,” said Jacobs.

Eagan concurred. “We have probably 80 things we want to talk about, and how do we distill that to about three or four messages, which are the most effective to tell folks really what we’re doing with their money, in a way that doesn’t make a taxpayer feel that we’re wasting their money to share this information?” she asked.

Board member Pat Kemp said that far from being negative, she thought the Times piece showed that the agency is performing well with the limited funds it possesses. “It’s really important to know that it’s one of the least funded agencies that they found around the nation,” she said about the board that she now serves on.

“That’s a fair comment,” added committee chairman John Melendez.

 

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Marco Rubio to attend meetings in Europe this week – not in Tampa

While federal workers get Presidents’ Day off, Congress takes off the entire week.

For some lawmakers, that means coming home to host townhall meetings, which for many GOP lawmakers have become contentious affairs.

Others are traveling overseas this week, such as Florida’s U.S. Senator, Marco Rubio.

The recently re-elected Senator is traveling to Europe to speak with officials regarding the U.S. relationship with the European Union, NATO operations and Russian aggression in Europe.

That’s according to Rubio’s Facebook page. The post says that, “Senator Rubio is traveling overseas this week to attend multiple bilateral meetings with heads of state and senior government officials in Germany and France, two countries with upcoming elections who are facing concerns about Russian interference. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Appropriations Committee, and Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Rubio is conducting this official oversight trip to discuss the U.S./E.U. relationship, NATO operations, counter-ISIS activities, foreign assistance programs, and Russian aggression in Europe.”

What that means is that Rubio won’t be attending any townhall events, including one that was created by activists who had hoped he would attend this Wednesday night at the Tampa Letter Carriers Hall.

“Sadly, we have all grown accustom [sic] to our absent Senator,” writes Melissa Gallagher, who created the event on Facebook. She says that the townhall will go on without Rubio.

“The fact his team refuses to even consider him skyping in or connecting with us is beyond disappointing,” she writes.

“As part of the strategy of disruption outlined in their online activist manual, the organizers are deceiving people by falsely advertising this event, which is not connected to us in any way,” responds Rubio spokesman Matt Wolking.

“The protesters – some of whom failed to show up for meetings they scheduled with our staff – continue to fundraise off of it even though we informed them days ago Senator Rubio will not be there,” Wolking says. “We have been fully accessible and responsive to constituents, and our staff has already met with dozens of these liberal activists at our offices across Florida. As their manual reveals, their goal is to flood offices with calls and emails, disrupt our ability to respond, then complain to the press that they aren’t getting a response.”

Organizers had created a GoFundMe page to rent the hall for Wednesday, and as of Monday morning had raised $2,242, short of their $3,000 goal. The original fee was much lower, but Gallagher says that it was increased “after the venue received several calls from police in Tallahassee and Orlando.”

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Impressive roster of GOP leaders line up for Ed Hooper fundraiser

Clearwater Republican Ed Hooper is assembling an impressive number of high-profile state lawmakers for a Tallahassee reception next month. Hooper, a former state representative, is seeking the open Senate District 16 seat currently held by Jack Latvala.

Hooper’s campaign fundraiser will be Monday, March 6, from 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the Governors Club, 202 South Adams Street.

The host committee reads like a Who’s Who of GOP state leaders, including Senate President Joe Negron and nearly all the Pinellas County/Hillsborough delegation: Sens. Latvala, Bill Galvano, Wilton Simpson, Dana Young and Jeff Brandes.

Republican senators from beyond the Tampa Bay area will be there, too: Lizbeth Benacquisto, George Gainer, Denise Grimsley, Frank Artiles, Dennis Baxley, Aaron Bean, Travis Hutson, Debbie Mayfield, Kathleen Passidomo, Keith Perry, Robert Bradley, Doug Broxson, David Simmons, Kelli Stargel and Greg Steube.

The House will also be well represented, with Larry Ahern, Ben Albritton, Chris Latvala and Kathleen Peters.

A former Clearwater firefighter who served four terms in the House before term limits forced him out, Hooper ran for Pinellas County Commission in 2014, losing to Democrat Pat Gerard after a contentious campaign.

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Emotions raw over Donald Trump immigration, refugee stance at Tampa Tiger Bay Club

Tensions over Donald Trump were high at the Friday meeting of the Tampa Tiger Bay Club.

The president’s recent travel ban on seven mostly Muslim countries and his executive order expanding the authority for individual immigration officers to detain and deport undocumented immigrants are two of the most explosive issues he addressed in his first month in office.

Pressure those events have engendered were reproduced to some extent the luncheon event at the Ferguson Law Center.

“No matter what your view is on immigration, I think we can agree that this rollout was a hot mess,” said Anna Eskamani, senior director of public affairs and communications for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, in referring to the president ‘s executive order from three weeks ago which has been since been reversed by a federal judge in Washington state and stayed by the Ninth Circuit of Court of Appeals.

Colonel Jim Waurishuk served in the U.S. Air Force as a senior intelligence and joint political-military affairs officer for over 30 years, spending time in Iraq, Afghanistan and over 60 other countries. He noted that the seven countries named in Trump’s executive order were initially singled out with a law that President Obama signed back in December of 2015, a talking point made at the time by Trump supporters.

Waurishuk also said that the public needs to stop looking at immigration so emotionally, and more from the standpoint of common sense and logic.

“We put a face of an illegal immigrant as being someone who is Latino or Hispanic,” he said. “We put the face of a refugee as someone who is Muslim, but we don’t [with] people coming from all over the world, from South Asia to Central Asia, from Europe, from Africa.”

“We have to address it like it really is, rather than based on an emotional aspect.”

Waurishuk also echoed Trump supporters when he said that the controversial executive order never included the word “ban.”

However, critics at the time noted that both the president and press secretary Sean Spicer called it just that.

It was also inescapable that one of candidate Trump’s most controversial statements ever in the campaign was when he called for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States in December of  “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

The third member of the panel, Nestor Ortiz, is the chairman of the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council.

Tiger Bay Board Member Don Kruse asked Ortiz that since racial profiling is already done throughout most of the world, what about doing it in America?

Ortiz emphatically responded that should not happen.

“There aren’t ICE agents targeting Canadian citizens,” he said. “They’re targeting black and brown communities, whether it be because they think they’re Muslim, or because they think they’re a terrorist, or they think that they can stop and frisk because they might have a gun or be a gang member. The majority of profiling directly impacts people of color. Which is an unfortunate reality. And I don’t say that lightly.”

“It is nice to be white in America,” Ortiz continued, “because these are things that do not apply to you, and I’m not saying that you have anything to apologize for, but just know that is our reality.”

“So should profiling be happening? No, not unless it happens to everyone, but unfortunately it does not.”

Things got a little tense when a white woman (only identified as Brooke) remarked that there was an imbalance on the panel, with “two people of color” debating the issues on the progressive side and only a single white conservative on the other.

Tiger Bay Club head Yvonne Fry said she had made a “great effort” to get another conservative on the panel, with no success.

A few minutes later, a woman sitting next to her named Kathy Brown referred to the “stark division” in the nation between liberals and conservatives. She said that conservatives like herself felt as despondent as liberals now do under President Trump, but “conservatives don’t go out on the street and riot.”

To buttress her argument, Brown said that the Obama administration had put “restrictions on religion, telling Chaplains what they said and couldn’t say.”

Ortiz disagreed with the comparison, saying what Trump is doing to Muslims and undocumented immigrants is something that Obama never did to Christians.

“We have the potential of losing out homes and our livelihoods,” he said, “and that wasn’t a reality for people when Obama was the president. It just wasn’t. When you say we took away religious freedoms? That didn’t happen. Obama was not saying go round up Christians.”

After hearing public comment from dozens of people earlier this month, The Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council recommended that the Board of County Commissioners made Hillsborough a sanctuary county.

A woman at Friday’s forum said that because the Trump administration threatened to withhold federal funds to such local governments who do that, would it truly be worth the effort?

(BOCC Chair Stacy White already said he has no intention of approving such a decision).

Ortiz said yes, it would be worth it; Eskamani said that working for Planned Parenthood, she is experienced in being threatened with the loss of federal funding.

One interesting side note to the proceedings: In his introductory remarks, Waurishuk said he had worked with Gen. Michael Flynn, who earlier this week resigned as Trump’s National Security Adviser. When attorney

When attorney Gary Dolgin commented on the circumstances leading to Flynn’s resignation later in the hour, Waurishuk hinted that he believed the general got a raw deal.

“Every national security advisor is allowed to do what he’s done,” he said. “There’s a period called the transition period from Nov. 9 to January 20 where anybody is brought on starts to do his job. They don’t wait until January 20 to start doing their job.”

Waurishuk went on to say the administration received more than 50 calls from world leaders, all with some sort of agenda.

“He said in 10 or 15 or 20 days, we will look at that once we’re in office, being as cordial and polite as possible in saying what he did,” Waurishuk told the audience, referring to Flynn’s actual dialogue (a transcript has not yet been published).

He also told Dolgin that he would need to follow up with him after the meeting.

“I’ll talk to you privately on that because I’m not at bay,”  Waurishuk said. “It’s totally different, but it was done for media purposes. You’d be surprised at what really went on.”

 

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Tampa Bay Tea Party transit critics get their say at forum

Whatever adjective(s) you may wish to use to describe Sharon Calvert, Tom Rask and Barb Haselden, “effective” has to be one of them.

The three Tea Party-aligned citizen activists have led the opposition to the two major public transit initiatives that have gone down to defeat over the past seven years, and contributed strongly to a third never making it to the ballot in Hillsborough County in 2016 (they also proudly add the failed referendums in Polk County in 2010 and 2014, as well).

The facts are well known, but just a reminder:

In 2010, the one-cent sales tax referendum known as Go Hillsborough lost by a 58%-42% margin in Hillsborough County.

In 2014, the one-cent sales tax referendum known as Greenlight Pinellas in Pinellas County did even poorer, losing 62%-38% at the polls.

In 2016, what might have been a half-cent sales tax referendum known as Go Hillsborough got mired in ethics issues and never even made it to the ballot, after Hillsborough County Commissioners twice rejected putting it there on 4-3 votes.

Calvert, Rask and Haselden were the invited speakers at Friday’s Cafe Con Tampa lecture series at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa, where they faced a large crowd, many of whom come from the Tampa/Hillsborough County business and political establishment that wish those ballot initiatives had passed in one form or another (though the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee sent out an email alerting their members about the meeting).

While critics say you can’t build enough roads to handle the transportation needs of the Tampa Bay region, all three speakers were unified in saying that they support putting money in roads, first and foremost.

Referring to how to lighten the gridlock on the Howard Frankland Bridge, Haselden asked the audience, “Is the solution more public transportation? Or is the solution re-doing the road? So we widen the roads.”

Calvert and Haselden also said they both support the FDOT’s multi-billion dollar Tampa Bay Express toll lanes project, which is extremely unpopular in some parts of Tampa.

All three speakers also talked about trust in believing their local officials, or to be more accurate, their lack of trust.

“My transit agency (PSTA) – I don’t trust them. I don’t trust the board,” said Rask.

With a college degree in finance, Calvert said that numbers “have to make sense to me,” and in her opinion, there has not been an honest explanation about the fiscal scenarios laid out in the Hillsborough initiatives in 2010 and 2016. She later said that if she ever would support a transit referendum, it should only extend ten years out, and not thirty, as both Hillsborough initiatives would have been.

“I’m not anti-transit. I’m cost-effective transit,” Calvert said about her general philosophy on using public monies for major transportation projects.

Not only did she play a leading role in ensuring that Go Hillsborough never made it to the ballot in 2016, Calvert is now expressing concerns about the much heralded “premium transit” study that the Florida Dept. of Transportation is funding and that the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) will conduct that will look at various options, including bus rapid transit, light rail and commuter rail. She says she has attended the public meetings about the study, and sees basically the same people talking to each other, while shutting out an organization like the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) out of USF.  She says more entrepreneurs need to be invited to the discussion.

One area where Calvert is enthusiastic about the future of public transportation is when it comes to the use of autonomous vehicles, where Florida is actually ahead of the curve compared to the rest of the nation in creating the regulatory framework for that technology to begin happening relatively soon.

Haselden worked against Greenlight Pinellas in 2014. She says that the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) should rely on providing essential bus service for those who need it, and stop vying to get “choice riders” to ditch their cars, because “it’s not going to happen.”

Although branded as the three transit critics were coming into hostile territory, there was mostly positive vibes expressed from the members of the audience for the speakers coming to the forum. However, there were also criticism about not presenting alternatives  to fixing the region’s huge transportation problems.

Rask disagreed with the notion that the region is 20 years behind because of a lack of a viable public transit system.

“I think we’re ahead by not wasting money on these public transit projects,” he said, eliciting some groans from the crowd.

There has been considerable concern amongst the Tea Party crowd of a creeping referendum coming from the new HART-PSTA Memorandum of Understanding, something officials with those transit agencies strongly deny.

Tampa City Council Chairman Mike Suarez said that just because the voters have rejected referendums in the past, doesn’t mean they don’t want the option of having one in the future. “Saying that you can’t  have another election because it’s already been defeated I think is the weakest part of their argument,” he said.

Suarez then asked if they would support having the Legislature approve a law that would allow some of Florida’s cities (like St. Petersburg and Tampa) to put their own referendums on the ballot. This has been a hobbyhorse for locally elected officials in the Tampa Bay area, frustrated at losing referendums at the country level, while they have performed much better in the cities. While Rask and Calvert said they didn’t necessarily have a problem with it, local GOP Bay area lawmakers have expressed repeatedly that they have no interest in doing so.

At the end of the discussion, Tampa resident Sandy Reif told the three speakers that all he had heard was a negative message.

“I don’t think you’ve offered a solution to anything,” he said with disdain.

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City to hold public meeting on Tangerine Plaza

The city of St. Petersburg will host a meeting Feb. 23 to talk with the public about the Tangerine Plaza development.

The “Tangerine Plaza Community Conversation” will start at 6 pm and be held in the community room of the St. Petersburg College Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Midtown Center at 1300 22nd Street South.

Topics addressed in the meeting include what the greatest need is for the community surrounding Tangerine Plaza, the history of the plaza’s development and how the property can serve the community’s needs in the future.

The midtown shopping center has been in dire straits for years, and anchor store Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market announced last month it would shutter its doors in March, leaving area residents without a grocery store.

The meeting will have city staff in attendance and is open to all interested parties. For more information on the meeting, contact St. Petersburg Director of Education and Community Engagement Leah McRae at (727) 893-7174 or Leah.McRae@stpete.org.

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Alan Clendenin is undecided on who to vote for in DNC Chair race

The 447 members of the Democratic National Committee that will get together for the party’s four-day spring meeting in Atlanta beginning next Thursday have an important decision – who will lead the Democratic Party over the next four years?

The two best known candidates are Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison and Tom Perez, the Dept. of Labor Secretary under Barack Obama.

“If I was a betting man, I’d say that Perez has the edge,” says Alan Clendenin, a DNC Commiteeman from Tampa who will be in Atlanta next week to vote in the chair’s race. Speaking with this reporter on WMNF radio on Thursday, Clendenin also acknowledges that “there’s a lot of love for Keith” Ellison as well.

Getting some love from some mainstream Democrats is South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who was endorsed on Thursday by former DNC National Chair and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. Former Maryland Governor and Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley is also backing the mayor.

Clendenin also speaks highly of South Carolina Democratic Chairman Jaime Harrison, who he pegs as a sleeper candidate.”He’s got a lot of future ahead of him,” he says. “He’s a young guy. I’m a huge fan of Jamie Harrison.”

On Wednesday, Harrison received the endorsements of Ohio Democratic Congress members Tim Ryan and Marcia Fudge.

Other candidates in the race include Sally Boynton Brown, executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party, activist and Fox News communicator Jehmu Greene, and New Hampshire Democratic Chairman Ray Buckley, who Clendenin has known for years.

“He’s been in party politics for a long time,” Clendenin says. “He knows where all the bodies are buried. Anybody who becomes a chair who does not use Ray Buckley is a fool, because he’s going to be somebody important.”

Clendenin is no stranger to elections when it comes to party chair, having finished second in the races to lead the Florida Democratic Party in 2013 and again last month, when he lost out to Miami area developer and fundraiser Stephen Bittel.

Clendenin has not committed to anyone in the contest yet. And he’s not the only Hillsborough Democrat with a vote.

Hillsborough County Commiteewoman Alma Gonzalez is also a DNC Committewoman. She was unavailable for comment on Thursday.

The election for DNC Chair takes place on Saturday, February 25.

 

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