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10 things I think I think about the (pathetic) St. Petersburg City Council races

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by
1. Jim Kennedy had a really bad week. First, Howard Troxler knocked the entire City Council for its inability to solve even the simplest of issues, such as the controversy surrounding a hot dog vendor. The story would not have been too bad for Kennedy, except for this quote, which is a doozy:

“In government,” Kennedy said blithely of this latest delay, “six weeks is pretty darn quick.”

Then a relative bombshell hit when Ken Welch came forward and said that he had not endorsed Kennedy and wanted him to cease-and-desist from distributing any more campaign literature which said that Welch had endorsed Kennedy. A week like last week is all an insurgent campaign, like Steve Corsetti’s, needs to breakthrough.

2. And if you don’t think Kennedy is in trouble, let me tell you, I’ve seen a poll that shows the race at 16-9 for Kennedy, which means that 77% of the electorate is undecided. These are dangerous numbers for an incumbent.

3. Speaking of Corsetti, this is how I know he’s doing it right: Yesterday, despite the rain, Corsetti was making the rounds at the St. Pete Folk Fair near Ferg’s, where there were hundreds of potential voters. It’s that kind of grassroots effort that can lead to an upset. If only Corsetti’s campaign had a professional touch, so that he could avoid mistakes like this.

4. It’s those kind of amateur-hour mistakes that plague this entire Election Season. When will the candidates running for office in St. Petersburg begin to take the process seriously enough where they raise enough money to run credible campaigns? It’s embarrassing that one of the candidates for Mayor has no consultant, no manager and has raised less than $50K, while candidates in Tampa run campaigns on par with the best state and federal efforts. Other than Steve Kornell, Karl Nurse and Angela Rouson, none of the candidates for City Council are running meritorious campaigns.

5. This amateur approach to city politics may not matter in 2009, but it will in 2011, when Bill Dudley, Wengay Newton and Herb Paulson are up for re-election. Already there are several serious candidates contemplating runs against all three of these backbenchers and they won’t be running campaigns that begin after Labor Day, which means none of the incumbents will get the pass Leslie Curran and Jeff Danner have received this year.

6. Oh, Jeff Danner, my favorite member of City Council not named Karl Nurse! I just wish you would have had the balls to not do anything rather than see you and Greg Wilson cobble this video together. I enjoyed watching Transformers 2 more than this:

7. Danner is cranking up the fundraising and has an event scheduled at my watering hole, Bella Brava, on Tuesday night.

8. Alright, let’s talk about the most interesting race on the ballot Steve Kornell vs. Angela Rouson. As in the primary, Kornell started strong, but Rouson has responded in-kind, launching a much, much bigger television ad buy. Of course, Kornell has a better ground game, but Rouson can claim a more sophisticated media effort. Why is her campaign more sophisticated? Well, let me explain. Her television buy is larger, yet more focused and cross-references with her direct mail and her billboard efforts. Kornell’s effort is niiiccceee, but it isn’t as coordinated as Rouson’s.

9. This race is shaping up into a battle of endorsements, but after a while doesn’t it all run together? Sure, unless one candidates has a real diversity of support. I think this is another factor that favors Angela Rouson. When else do you see a candidate in a competitive race pick up the endorsement of both Rick Baker and Ken Welch? Or is supported by the Democratic members of the county’s legislative delegation and the Republican members of the County Commission?

10. Still, no matter what, if I had access to any polling, I’d bet Kornell is ahead by six or eight points. If only I had such access…

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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