St. Petersburg residents head to the polls in three weeks to determine whether Rick Kriseman gets a second term as mayor of the Sunshine City, although the polls continue to show that former mayor Rick Baker is on track to unseat the incumbent.
Here are five things I think I think about the St. Petersburg mayoral race:
1. All of us writing about the downright ridiculous memorandum from the Florida Democratic Party (which stupidly forecasts that black voter turnout will be less than 10 percent) buried the lede. The memo says that an FDP poll has Baker leading Kriseman, 44 to 33 percent. So that’s ANOTHER poll that shows Kriseman not just below fifty percent (which classic political consulting suggests is a dangerous to be in if you are an incumbent) but that he’s also well below 40 percent. Kriseman has NEVER been above 40 percent in any poll that included Baker in the mix. That’s the real story.
2. Put the polling aside for a moment and ask yourself what does your gut tell you about this race. Is Baker’s lead over Kriseman growing? Or is the race tightening? I’ll ask St. Pete Polls to survey the race this week, but in the meantime, here’s one anecdotal piece of evidence that tells me Baker is well ahead of Kriseman. On Sunday, my family and I drove in from the beach to the Allendale neighborhood and then back to Madeira Beach. We took 22nd Avenue North into town and 38th Avenue North to the beach. Our errand had us drive up and down four streets in Allendale. On this drive, we counted 31 commercial or yard signs up for Baker and just three up for Kriseman (and one for Jesse Nevel!). We didn’t count any signs that were illegally placed in right-of-ways, but we did count signs that we could see off the main streets. Thirty-one to three – a tenfold advantage in signage for Baker on two of the busiest streets in the city (and two that go deep into the west side of town, which is supposedly Kriseman’s stronghold).
3. Whenever I write about the importance of yard signs in an election, I am reminded of this amazing story.
4. Despite the negative stories about the FDP memo, Kriseman did have a good weekend. Dozens of supporters hit the campaign trail on Saturday for the campaign’s first ever statewide day of action. Supporters from around the state made thousands of calls, and dozens of volunteers participated in a city-wide canvass, according to Jacob Smith, Kriseman’s campaign manager. Councilwoman Darden Rice launched the first volunteer shift of the day from the Kriseman campaign headquarters, while Kriseman and School Board Member Rene Flowers, an increasingly outspoken surrogate for the mayor, knocked on doors in South St. Pete. Perhaps most important, Kriseman was endorsed by one of, if not THE, most influential leaders in the black community, the Rev. Louis Murphy.
5. On Sunday, three Pinellas teenagers – one 14-year-old and two 16-year-olds – stole a sport utility vehicle, sped away from officers and died in a fiery, violent crash. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a news conference that a fourth teen in the SUV, who is 14, survived and is hospitalized. He said all the teens all had criminal histories – including one who had gotten out of jail on July 31. Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel is not mincing words about how he views this incident. At a press conference Monday morning, Nevel and City Council candidate Eritha “Akile” Caisson will say that the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office “murdered” the three teenagers.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.