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Mitch Perry Report for 3.3.15 — Democracy now in Tampa

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The most lackluster campaign that this reporter has covered in his 15 years living in Tampa comes to a conclusion tonight — at least for most of the candidates vying to win the five Tampa City Council seats up for election.

There is really not much drama at stake. Though there has been a lot of coverage of the District 6 campaign between Republican Jackie Toledo, Democrat Guido Maniscalco and independent Tommy Castellano, it’s been about relatively trivial matters involving third-party mailers from dubious sources. There hasn’t been anything too damning in those mailers. There were also so-called “push polls” earlier in the campaign that upset some folks. We’ll see how these controversies play out in the polls.

The only other possible drama that could be squeezed out of tonight is whether Julie Jenkins or Joe Citro can stop Charlie Miranda from getting the 50 percent plus one vote that would make him the automatic victor in the citywide District 2 race.

The other races?

Let me say I really appreciate Susan Long. She’s been a mainstay at Council meetings for years. The woman cares a lot about this city, and she’s smart. It’d be interesting to see her on the Council, but it’s probably not going to happen tonight as she squares off against Mike Suarez, who has visions of a mayoral campaign in his future.

District 3 pits Yolie Capin vs. Paul Erni. Erin is a very nice man who has basically been the main contributor to his own campaign. Capin’s first fund-raiser last summer drew a huge crowd at Ulele (then again maybe some folks wanted a sneak peak at the Tampa Heights eatery, which hadn’t officially opened yet), and she’s never looked back since. Although she and Bob Buckhorn are reportedly pals now, there’s no question that there was some tension between them during the last four years, and undoubtedly some tensions might surface between them again in the next four years. And unless you want an imperial leader, that tension is definitely healthy for the body politic.

In District 4, Kent King has tried to keep it competitive against Harry Cohen. It’s interesting. King says that most voters whose doors he knocks on in the South Tampa precincts say they don’t know the incumbent that well? A third candidate in this race, UT student Tyler Barrett, said the same thing to me before he dropped out of the race in December. Anyway, the only real question appears to be how close can King get?

Of course Lisa Montelione and Frank Reddick already won their races, which will definitely help keep a low-turnout lower.

Oh, and I guess I forgot that Mayor Bob Buckhorn is on the ballot, looking to pile up an enormous win against only write-in candidate Jose Vazquez, who informed me over the weekend that he was unable to access his campaign account last week, as the state government has seized his accounts because he’s been late in making child support payments.

Today is the first day of the 2015 legislative session in Tallahassee. Tampa state Rep. Janet Cruz is the new House Minority Leader. She tells Florida Politics what she’s hoping might occur during the next two months.

Hillsborough County transit officials have a wish list from Tallahassee as the session commences.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s much heralded speech to Congress takes place today. Tampa area Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor says she doesn’t like the “machinations” of politics at play in the Israeli Prime Minister’s visit, but she’ll be in attendance nonetheless.

Meanwhile Castor will be traveling to Alabama this weekend to take part in the annual march over the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, the site of the “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march 50 years ago that led to the Voting Rights Act.

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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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