When Rick Baker needed to push through the Legislature a priority for his boss, St. Petersburg developer and philanthropist Bill Edwards, the former mayor of St. Petersburg turned to a familiar face: Alan Suskey.
Suskey is part of the team at Capitol Insight, the lobbying team led by former House Speakers Dean Cannon and Larry Cretul. Before joining CI, Suskey was a St. Petersburg-based lobbyist, first for SRI International, then as part of Three Bridges Advisers, the governmental affairs shop launched by David Jolly before he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Baker and Suskey worked together on several issues benefiting various St. Petersburg projects including funding for oil spill recovery research and construction at USF-St. Petersburg.
When Suskey relocated in 2012 to Tallahassee, he promised Baker he would always look out for issues important to the ‘burg.
“Rick Baker will always be my mayor, no matter where I live,” Suskey said.
So when Baker and Edwards wanted to see the North American Soccer League — the governing body of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, which play in St. Pete — added to the list of sports league eligible for state funding, they hired Capitol Insight to lobby on the issue. So far, the decision to lobby up has worked out for Baker and Edwards as the NASL is now in both the House and Senate’s version of the stadium financing legislation.
But improving the Rowdies’ soccer stadium was not the only priority of Edwards and Baker. They are also seeking some state help with an improvement to the kitchen at Mahaffey Theater. Negotiators have tucked $500,000 into the state budget for the Mahaffey.
For Baker and Suskey, it seems like old times … working together for the betterment of St. Petersburg.