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Can an African-American win in Tarpon Springs? Can the Stonewall Democrats win another race? And other intriguing questions from Pinellas’ elections

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by
Tomorrow is Election Day tomorrow in Pinellas. Check back often with Saint Petersblog for updates, photos and results from interesting races in Clearwater, Gulfport, Oldsmar and Tarpon Springs. Here’s are the story lines I’ll be following:

Can an African-American candidate win in Tarpon Springs? City Commissioner David Archie is facing off against my friend Matt King to replace Beverly Biliris as the next Mayor of the City of Sponges. And while there have been plenty issues discussed on the campaign trail — such as Archie’s vote to allow Wal-Mart to build near the Anclote River — the race may come down to the issue of, well, race. Archie, an African-American, would be the only black Mayor in lily-white Pinellas County. Whether Archie can win a majority of votes in ethnic Tarpon Springs remains to be seen. Then again, Archie isn’t the strongest candidate and Matt King represents a new vision for the sleepy town.

Can the Stonewall Democrats win another election? Pinellas gay Democrats are on a bit of a roll. Last November, they helped make Steve Kornell the first openly gay elected official in St. Petersburg. Then Gail Caldwell went unopposed in her bid for a seat on the Treasure Island City Commission. The Stonewall Dems go for the trifecta tomorrow, betting heavily on Stanley Solomons (disclosure: I contributed to Solomon’s campaign) to win a competitive seat in Gulfport.

Will the best man win in Clearwater? Former councilman Bill Jonson is looking to return to city government after a few years out of office. Quite frankly, the charisma-challenged Jonson may be the best public official in Clearwater, if not all of Pinellas County. But in a multi-candidate field in today’s political environment, who knows what will happen.

Will a rising star take off in Oldsmar? Write this name down: Ella Coffee. My GOP friends may not know her, but among progressives Ella is earning quite a reputation for field organizing. I haven’t checked in with her for a while, but I’m sure Ella’s doing a hell of a job helping Linda Norris in her campaign for Oldsmar City Council.

Again, check back often for updates on these and all of Pinellas’ municipal elections.

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.

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