In his “As We Heard It” column, Patrick Manteiga writes that candidates of all stripes are starting to measure their strengths for a potential run for Mayor of Tampa.
Among the names the plugged-in Manteiga mentions are the obvious contenders, like former police chief Jane Castor and current City Councilman Mike Suarez, as well as Councilmembers Yolie Capin and Harry Cohen. Also in the mix, Manteiga says, are Hillsborough Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez, Public Defender Julie Holt, former state Rep. Ed Narain, and Republican County Commissioners Ken Hagan and Sandy Murman.
That so many local heavyweights are interested in running for Tampa Mayor speaks to what kind of exciting race this will be.
Of course, there are several people not mentioned in Manteiga’s column who are probably interested in running. First among them has to be state Rep. Shawn Harrison, who previously served on City Council.
Manteiga himself called Harrison — in an endorsement over Democrat Lisa Montelione for House District 63 last year — as a “moderate Republican. Democrats can work with him.” His win in November was impressive, taking into account that HD 63 was a top Democratic target in 2016; Montelione was one of about a dozen Democratic state candidates endorsed by President Barack Obama.
“Normally, we support Democrats,” Manteiga wrote, “but lately, we’ve noticed some Democrats aren’t acting like Democrats … Montelione is on that list.”
Yes, Harrison would be a Republican running in a Democratic town, but in a multi-way race, might he be able to consolidate much of the GOP vote — or at least enough to propel him into a runoff where all bets would be off?
As an example of his appeal beyond the GOP, Harrison has been open to some version of Medicaid expansion. In a letter to the Tampa Tribune, he spoke of “a plan for private health coverage that draws down federal dollars with reasonable review, opt-out and sunset provisions included.”
Harrison also has the advantages of knowing how to win tough races (his legislative district is the very definition of a battleground seat), being able to transfer whatever he has in his legislative campaign account to a municipal bid, and a smart political team around him (master strategists Anthony Pedicini and Tom Piccolo advise Harrison.)
We’re not ready to predict Harrison will be Bob Buckhorn‘s successor, but with his experience and capabilities, he certainly merits keeping an eye on as the race unfolds.