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Kathy Castor: Kriseman camp’s linking of Rick Baker to Donald Trump is ‘fair game’

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Kathy Castor no longer represents a part of St. Petersburg in Congress, but she is following the mayoral race there. She says she doesn’t have a problem with the Florida Democratic Party attempting to tie former Mayor Rick Baker to Donald Trump.

The Florida Democratic Party is running a 30-second ad on behalf of incumbent Rick Kriseman that attempts to connect Baker not only with Trump, but other Republicans like Mitt Romney and Rick Scott.

Although the mayoral race is technically non-partisan, Kriseman has been prominent in demonstrating his progressive policies ever since he was elected in 2013. Baker is a Republican who contemplated a run for Congress and Florida governor under the GOP flag in recent years .

St. Petersburg is a Democratic-leaning city, but that hasn’t helped Kriseman in the race, according to the polls. Baker has insisted from the beginning of the campaign that local politics have nothing to do with what’s happening in Washington and/or Tallahassee.

“Unfortunately in this day and age I don’t think you escape partisanship, especially with a president who is gone off on such an extreme,” Castor said Tuesday.

The Tampa Democrat says that rather than build consensus in the country after losing the popular presidential vote last November, Trump appears to be catering to the far-right of the GOP.

“I think it’s fair game for people to point out that former Mayor Rick Baker has not really spoken out (against Trump)a and Mayor Rick Kriseman has been quite active on what’s most important to the citizens of the city.”

The Kriseman camp released a statement last Friday noting on 13 different occasions where Trump has made a controversial statement or policy position that Baker has not spoken about.

Perhaps most notably, Baker has refused to say who he voted for in last year’s presidential election.

For most of her decade plus tenure in Washington, Castor represented parts of downtown and South St. Petersburg in addition to Hillsborough County in a congressional seat drawn up by state Republicans. That changed in 2015, when under a Florida Supreme Court ruling, state Republicans were mandated to redraw up Florida’s 14th Congressional District.

The newly drawn up district excludes those parts of St. Petersburg, making her CD 14 seat slightly less Democratic in party registration (but still a dominant Democratic seat), but making the 13th Congressional District more Democratic, which prompted Charlie Crist to enter the race last year, where he defeated  Republican David Jolly by four percentage points.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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