Another take on who might run in 2013 for Mayor of St. Petersburg

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After I posted Friday about his list of potential candidates for the race for Mayor in 2013, I asked Bob Wilson of the Bill Foster watch to weigh in on who he support. Here is his response.

This got all kinds of gears turning in our heads, and we asked around to see what other people thought, as well as doing some searching to see what past St. Petersburg political contenders have been up to lately.

Unfortunately, Bill Foster announced in February that he would be running for reelection next year. It would really be sadly funny how hopelessly bad Bill Foster is at being Mayor, if we didn’t have to live with him being OUR Mayor that is. Even people we’ve talked to who live in other bay-area cities are baffled and amazed at just how bad he is doing the job. So taking into consideration his horrible performance so far, there is a very real chance that he could lose next year.

As for who we prefer in the 2013 race for Mayor? the short answer is “Anybody But Bill Foster”, the city government has stagnated and needs change at the top (both elected and non-elected), and just about anybody else would be better than Foster. Someone who isn’t afraid to fire incompetent, corrupt and/or lazy city employees would be a good start.

Here’s a rundown of the possible contenders:

Rick Kriseman – A good guy, cares about the city, has called Foster out on several of his blunders, and seems to be preparing for the 2013 Mayor race by not running for the state legislature this year, but we’re not sure he has the city-wide support needed to beat an incumbent in a city that has a strong history of reelecting incumbents, even with that in mind, he probably has the best chance out of all of those who will end up running against Foster next year.

Kathleen Ford – She had her chance, and would not win in a rematch of the 2009 race. She also seems more bitter and divisive now than she did 3 years ago.

Leslie Curran – Currently trying to take charge in City Council and fill the leadership gap left by Foster, not sure how good a manager she is though with being sued by her landlord, and we don’t think she has “the left” supporting her enough to get out the vote and beat a standing Mayor from the same Republican party that she is in.

Karl Nurse – Seems a bit too far to the left for St Petersburg, and besides, he has another term to go on council.

Charlie Gerdes – He just got on council, he would wait at least another 4 years before he even thinks about running for Mayor.

Jim Kennedy – Too much of a Foster-buddy to run against him, and he’s looking for Foster’s support when HE runs for Mayor in 2017.

Steve Kornell – Very smart, knows the system and how to run a good campaign, would be a good Mayor. Don’t think the city is quite ready for a gay Mayor, although it would be a great race.

Jeff Danner – Let’s face it, judging from his committee meeting behavior, he can kind of come off as a jerk, although we don’t think he’d have a problem firing people, his lack of people-skills alone will keep him out of the Mayor’s office.

Bill Dudley – No way does he run for Mayor, especially against Foster.

Wengay Newton – The “voice of the people” on City Council, is a great guy, very dedicated to St Pete, but hopefully he knows that managing a city with thousands of employees is not something he would enjoy or be very good at.

Ken Welch – He is very happy at the county level for now thank you very much.

Charlie Justice – If he loses his bid for Pinellas County Commission against incumbent Nancy Bostock this year, he may run for Mayor of St Petersburg next year. He is well liked, very active politically and depending on the field of candidates, he might do quite well in the primary.

Scott Wagman – He may have matured in the last 3 years, as Mr. Schorsch suggests, but we don’t think he can win the race for Mayor without having any political experience unless he spends a lot more money this time.

Deveron Gibbons – Most people forget that he came in third place in the 2009 Mayor primary, but questions about his personal life and business life would most likely keep him from making it out of the primary once more.

Paul Congemi – The comic relief of our city’s last race for Mayor has already declared he will run in 2013, even after he came in tenth out of ten candidates in the 2009 primary. The grumpy, pro-gambling, anti-gay candidate who has been banned from KFC and claims to have his own political party is sure to add to the entertainment value of the 2013 Mayor race.

Larry Williams – Was on the Charter Review Committee last year, still involved in the city political scene, but probably won’t run for Mayor again after his fifth place finish in 2009.

Jamie Bennett – He continues to give back to the community by working as the Jobs and Housing Coach at the St. Petersburg Free Clinic’s Beacon House, Bennett most likely wouldn’t run again for Mayor after his sixth place finish in 2009.

Ed Montinari – We threw him on the list because of the massive man-crush Peter Schorsch seems to have on him, but Montinari most likely wouldn’t try to take out a fellow Republican running for reelection(although we wish he would have run against Councilman Dudley last year, and we still don’t know how he lost to Dudley in 2007).

Rick Baker – We already know he can do the job a lot better than Foster does, he is still very popular and he could beat Foster easily in a 1-on-1 match as Foster’s supporters would flock to Baker once he announced his candidacy. It is unlikely he will run, but there are hints that he may, and the city would be better off with Baker at the helm once more instead of another stumbling Foster term.

Charlie Crist – Would be a wonderful Mayor of St. Petersburg, but only in our dreams would he run. And anyway we need him available to get Rick Scott out of Tallahassee in a couple years.

IBM Watson – We saw this article linked on facebook and immediately thought of St Petersburg, we might even be better off with a computer as Mayor. Heck, Mayor Foster likes automated cameras and computerized parking meters, so why not just replace HIM with a computer?

So there you have it, like it or not, a few of these people are the ones that will run against Bill Foster for Mayor next year. Hopefully a good one will come out of the primary strong enough to win against Foster.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.