Not surprisingly, Pinellas and Tampa Bay promise to be a hotbed of competitive political races in 2014. And before that, the City of St. Petersburg will see a Mayor’s race which promises to be more competitive than any election since the city switched to a ‘strong mayor’ form of government.
So, before you head to grandma’s house to gobble up too much turkey, here’s where sh*t stands.
Fast-forward to August 2013. It’s Election Day in the City of St. Petersburg with Bill Foster running for re-election. Opposing him are Kathleen Ford, Rick Kriseman and Wengay Newton. Foster is down in the polls, perhaps even in third place, for one reason: He bulldozed the ol’ St. Petersburg Pier. Where the iconic, upside-down pyramid once stood now stands a pile of rubble. Worse yet, the proposed ‘Lens’ project to replace it has been put on hold, for any number of reasons.
Let Bill the Bulldozer try and run for re-election against that backdrop.
How soon until one of the prospective candidates for the open seats on City Council — Jeff Danner’s and Leslie Curran’s — file their paperwork? What is David McKalip waiting for?
An astute observer of Pinellas politics offers this statistic: since County Administrator Bob LaSala took the reins, four incumbent members of the County Commission have been involved in competitive elections — Democrat Calvin Harris and Republicans Nancy Bostock, Neil Brickfield and Susan Latvla. All but Latvala have lost.
County Commissioner Norm Roche is up in 2014 and has a bullseye on his back that can be seen from here to Court Street. Already, Republican Ed Hooper appears willing to take Roche on in a Republican primary. And Hooper won’t be the only one.
This begs the question: who will have Roche’s back in ’14. The Tea Party element responsible for Bostock and Brickfield’s defeat?
No matter who backs Roche in two years, there is one institution you can count on to oppose Roche’s re-election: The Tampa Bay Times. What the Times did to Bostock and Brickfield will look like the work of a high school newspaper compared to what First Avenue South will do to Roche.
2014 promises to be a busy year in several state legislative races which are already shaping up.
In Senate District 22, Republican star Jeff Brandes has to be at the top of the list of Democratic targets in 2014. At least the smart guys at the Political Hurricane blog think so.
The seat bleeds blue, yet no Democrat bothered to even run for the seat in 2012. If a Democrat does decide to run in this seat and Charlie Crist is at the top of the ticket (meaning Republicans won’t be able to rely on their typical non-presidential cycle advantage) Brandes could have his hands full.
In House District 65, Democrat Carl Zimmerman will be a prime target for Republicans eager to take back a seat they believe they lost only because they had a flawed candidate (Peter Nehr) running for re-election. State prosecutor Chris Sprowls, who graciously dropped his primary challenge of Nehr, must be chomping at the bit to take Zimmerman on. Look for Sprowls, already being recruited to run by Speaker Designate-to-be Jose Oliva, to hire Oliva’s man in Tampa Bay, Anthony Pedicini as his consultant.
In House District 66, Ed Hooper is retiring due to term-limits and small business man and son-of-the-Senator Chris Latvala is considering running for the seat. If he does run, he’ll be an instant frontrunner, although the Democrats won’t automatically cede this seat.