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10 things I think I think about yesterday’s candidate forum at Tiger Bay

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by
Honestly, I am often apprehensive about going to Tiger Bay. I know I make a lot of people (that means you, Leslie Curran) uncomfortable by just being in the room. But my apprehension subsides quickly once I see all the familiar faces. Plus, I’ve won a couple of fang-and-claw awards, I try to ask good, tough questions (I’d have won a few more fang-and-claw awards by now if some of the judges weren’t those same people I make uncomfortable) and, as my father said, it’s wrong to pass up a free meal.

Yesterday’s Tiger Bay forum was a typical gathering of the blue-bloods, white hairs and politicos. Packed room. Bad lunch. Inappropriate questions. Leslie Curran scowling. You know, the usual. Here’s my take on yesterday:

1. First and foremost, Karl Nurse deserves to be re-elected. Now. By acclimation. His breadth of knowledge of city issues may be greater than the combined sum of his colleagues’ understanding of city problems. Nurse is the perfect embodiment of a technocrat, familiar with how any facet of city government impacts people. Yesterday, Nurse’s strengths were on full display. Also, Nurse was warm and affable, two qualities not often found in a sentence about him.

2. But as much as Nurse was on full display, the class of the forum was Angela Rouson. Impeccably dressed and perfectly coifed, Rouson almost looked too impressive. Her opening remarks were more thoughtful than even the mayoral candidates. Two decades from now, this Tiger Bay forum will be remembered as the moment Congresswoman Angela Rouson emerged onto the public scene.

3. In stark contrast to Rouson was the dismal performance of Steve Kornell. Now, I know all the rainbows are going to be up-in-arms about any criticism of Kornell, but the truth hurts. Kornell looked like a deer in the headlights, bumbling his words on numerous occasions.

4. The blame for Kornell’s limp performance has to be placed on his campaign manager, Steve Lipinski. I believe this is only Lipinski’s second time handling a candidate appearing before Tiger Bay, but there is no excuse for Kornell’s obvious lack of preparation. Lips, you needed to have put your guy in front of a video camera and worked out the kinks.

5. What the hell was Kornell talking about anyway? The city’s biggest problem is the lack of college grads? Kornell’s top priority is “reading”? Crime, the economy, the budget…all of these issues rank much, much higher with voters. This is why campaigns poll.

6. Joe Smith is a very nice man. Very niiiicccceeee.

7. Vel Thomspon is a very mean woman. You can tell she just hates Karl Nurse. That kind of hate is only going to make more voters sympathetic to Nurse.

8. The supposed best question came from someone accusing Nurse of conspiring with the other members of City Council to, I didn’t really understand, it was like listening to people say Barack Obama won’t produce his birth certificate.

9. My question – which type of candidate has a more difficult cross to bear, a black woman running citywide, a white guy running in a minority-majority district or an openly gay man running in a less-than-progressive city – should have won.

10. Thank you Tiger Bay organizers for asking that a decent dessert – Key Lime pie — be served instead of the usual stale cookies.

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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