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Can Rick Baker win with the ‘stache?

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Rick Baker and what he will do after his term in office runs out in 2009. I have to admit he’s done an admirable job as the first real strong mayor, presiding over a prosperous, progressive period in St. Petersburg’s history. I don’t know if that translates into a statewide position, but there is one way he could instantly improve his chances if he decides to run for Chief Financial Officer in 2010.
Far be it for me to criticize someone else’s looks, but I strongly believe people hesitate voting for politicians with mustaches. I remember working with a client running for judge who had all the advantages in the world, save one: he had a porn mustache straight out of 1977. I begged him to shave that beaver off his face but he just wouldn’t part with it. I even went so far as to photoshop a picture of him, demonstrating how youthful he looked without his beloved ‘stache. It was no use. He went on to lose that race (and a few more after that).
That’s why if hizzoner is serious about running statewide, he’s gonna have to pull out the Mach 3. In fact, by just doing some cursory research, I’m hard-pressed to find a politician with a mustache who has won statewide.
Look at the current Cabinet: God knows Charlie Crist wouldn’t go a day without using his Gilette. I don’t think Bill McCollum could actually grow a mustache, even if he wanted to. Charlie Bronson, as Commissioner of Agriculture, should have a mustache because he’s in charge of making sure shit grows, but he’s clean-shaven. And while Jeff Kottkamp has a mustache, I don’t think he’s really part of the Cabinet anyway.
Reviewing the archives of past Cabinet members and statewide officeholders, I can’t find too many pictures of Floridians with facial hair. Bob Graham probably enjoyed shaving every day because it gave him something to write down in his notebooks. Connie Mack believed in less government, less taxes, and certainly less facial hair.
Like I said, I am hard-pressed to find a successful politician who sported a ‘stache (at least in their official portraits). The last governor to do so was Albert Waller Gilchrist (1909-1913). In the Senate, you have go back to Duncan U. Fletcher (1909-1936) — and, wow, did he have a soup filter on his face. Senator Walrus was Florida’s longest-serving senator, so he had time to grow out his handlebar. Believe it or not, Fletcher’s mustache was actually shorter than his predecessor, William Hall Milton, who probably would make hard-ass actor Sam Elliot feel less than a man.
The office of CFO hasn’t been around long enough to qualify for too many official portraits, but if you start poking through the archives of state treasurer, you’ll have to go back to the early 20th century to find a mustached CFO. Hopefully for Mayor Baker, the 21st century won’t have to wait that long for the mustache trend to come back into fashion.

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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