Here’s where sh*t stands – the “61,000 ballots are on St. Pete’s streets” edition

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Bet you didn’t realize today, not August 27th, is Election Day.

This is because Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark mailed 61,453 ballots today to domestic voters for the City of St. Petersburg’s primary election. 

In a recent St. Pete Polls survey, 52 percent of likely voters said they plan to vote by mail. Compare that to the 43 percent who intend to vote in person on August 27 (six percent remained undecided). This means there is a high probability the Mayor’s race could be decided in early voting — well before August 27. 

Here’s where sh*t stands now that more than 61,000 ballots are on St. Pete’s streets.

In the Mayor’s race, Kathleen Ford is nowhere to be seen while her campaign is in a tailspin, dropping seven points in just ten days. There is little activity on her Facebook page, Twitter account, or website. With approximately $14,000 in her campaign account, she can barely afford to chase early voters with direct mail and certainly cannot afford a television buy. Yet, what Ford desperately needs to do is be seen, especially after two weeks of negative press coverage from her ducking as many as six candidate debates and forums.

Where, oh where is Kathleen?

Well, she did recently stop by Tampa Bay Club Sports’ “Mud Wars” wearing white from head-to-toe. How stupid is that?

Other than that drop-in, the only other sighting of Ford was at the “Stop the Lens” group’s “We’re On The Ballot” bash.

Here’s the rub for Ford … According to the last round of polling from St. Pete Polls, voters are beginning to figure out that they can vote to ‘Stop the Lens’ without having to also support Ford. Undoubtedly, much of the ‘Stop” vote will still go for Kathleen – hell, she’s depending on the issue as her get-out-the-vote plan — but the poll numbers don’t lie. While opposition to “The Lens” remains relatively constant, support for Ford is dropping. 

This begs the question: What happens to a single-issue candidate (Ford) when voters no longer associate you with that single issue?

As for Foster and Kriseman, a lot is happening behind the scenes with these two campaigns.

Foster is buoyed by his own internal polling showing him in first place. He said as much in an email to his supporters last week. The survey from St. Pete Polls also showed him in first place, five points ahead of Ford. 

Will Foster win the polling triple crown and be in first place in the Tampa Bay Times‘ poll of the race? That remains to be seen, but I’m told the Times‘ poll will be published on Wednesday.

The main concern for Foster’s campaign is when will he start rolling-out his earned media campaign? Here it is the day ballots are being mailed out and Foster is still not on television. Remember, Foster’s consultant, Jack Hebert, is one of the most creative minds in the industry, but he’s not exactly a workaholic. With over $70,000 in the bank, Foster should have been on TV by now … like Rick Kriseman.

Kriseman has been airing approximately 440 spots a week on local cable, according to my rep at Bright House Networks. That’s not a huge buy, but it is a consistent one — one that Kriseman promises to keep up through the rest of the primary.

Actually, Kriseman’s campaign, albeit it in third-place, has an attitude of ‘We’ve got Ford and Foster right where we want them’ meaning, in the dynamic nature of politics, Kriseman has more room to grow over the next six weeks, while Ford and Foster have nowhere to go but down. I can’t say I disagree with this assessment, but Kriseman needs a couple of breaks to go his way — money to keep coming in, a ringing endorsement from the Times, etc. — for him to make the run-off. 

What will be very telling is the next round of campaign finance reports, due this Friday and reflect candidate fundraising and spending through July 19. Were Foster and Kriseman able to add to their six-figure campaign treasuries? Was Ford able to scrap together any real money?

Keep checking back to SaintPetersBlog for the latest news on the candidates’ fundraising and all things political in the ‘burg.

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