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Mail ballots heading to St. Pete voters Tuesday

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Mail ballots are heading out to St. Petersburg voters for the Nov. 7 general election, which will decide the city’s next mayor as well as three seats on the City Council.

The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections said it shipped out more than 250,000 general election ballots to domestic voters Tuesday. The supervisor’s office previously sent about 4,000 ballots to overseas voters, including active-duty military and their families.

Mail ballots need to be received at one of the supervisor of election offices by 7 p.m. on Election Day and can be hand delivered. The supervisor’s office recommends ballots be mailed back at least one week before the deadline.

Voters looking to vote by mail have until Nov. 1 to request a ballot from the supervisor’s office. New requests for mail ballots are first-come-first-served.

Not all of those quarter million ballots are staying in St. Pete, as all county voters will get a say in whether Pinellas continues the one-cent infrastructure sales tax for another 10 years. Clearwater, Dunedin and Seminole also have city elections on Nov. 7.

The race stealing the spotlight in November is without a doubt the runoff between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker, who served two terms in the 2000s. The ‘Battle of the Ricks’ is already the most expensive campaign in city history — that record was shattered heading into the primary.

Unlike the Aug. 29 race, however, there aren’t any tomato cans on the ballot and the guy with the most votes wins.

The Baker strategy was to win the whole thing in August with 50-percent-plus-one, but the pair virtually tied in the final count. Kriseman edging out Baker by a tenth of a point when all was said and done, despite having trailed in the polls and in fundraising for nearly his entire re-election campaign.

At least some credit goes to former President Barack Obama, whose 11th-hour endorsement gave Kriseman a much-needed boost among black voters, a demographic he fairs poorly with compared to most Democrats.

While Kriseman v. Baker tops the card, three City Council seats are also on the ballot.

Councilwoman Darden Rice is the only incumbent in the mix this year. Her opponent is Jerick Johnston, a 21-year-old business student at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. The councilwoman might be safe, but just in case her campaign put out its first TV ad last week.

In District 2, voters will decide whether Brandi Gabbard or Barclay Harless takes over for Jim Kennedy, while District 6 voters will pick between Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll for the seat being vacated by Karl Nurse.

Driscoll came in about 200 votes back from Bean in the primary, edging out third-place candidate Robert Blackmon by just four votes.

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Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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