Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Images from Election 2009

in The Bay and the 'Burg by
Those running for elected office in St. Petersburg were subjected to attending a gauntlet of sparsely-attended candidate forums, such as this one in Midtown. Not counting the candidates and their entourages, fewer than two dozen residents bothered to attend the meeting — about the same number of people who attended most of these events.

In the run-up to the 2009 Municipal Elections, the City Council’s decision to vacate the sidewalk outside of BayWalk became a national story after a fight broke out at City Hall. In this picture, a coalition of free-speech organizations protest the City Council’s decision. Despite the negative publicity the decision evoked, all of the incumbents on City Council were returned for a second term.

When all is said and done, the primary reason Bill Foster beat Kathleen Ford was the significant financial advantage Foster had over Ford, out-raising Ford by at least $168,000. This allowed Foster to poll often, distribute several direct-mail pieces and dominate the TV airwaves. Pictured here is prominent GOP fundraiser AK Desai talking with Bill Foster, who was able to tap into a fundraising network of Republican donors, including some reportedly allied with Senate candidate Marco Rubio.

A rare glimpse, albeit a difficult to discern glimpse, inside a St. Petersburg polling location.

Demonstrating once again why he is all but unbeatable in 2010, state Senator Jack Latvala collected petitions for his candidacy at several polling locations throughout St. Petersburg.

He gambled and lost, but at least he was brave enough to gamble. Pinellas Democratic Chair Ramsay McLaughlan, pictured here waving signs outside of Precinct 160, bet heavily on Kathleen Ford’s campaign, helping to draw resources from the Florida Democratic Party. But with Ford’s loss, McLaughlan was heavily criticized for attempting to inject partisan politics into a non-partisan race. Still, I think he deserves credit for at least attempting to make the PCDEC relevant.

Election Day always separates the losers from the winners. One of the biggest losers this year was St. Petersburg’s firefighters’ union, which backed Kathleen Ford and Angela Rouson. But one of the big winners from Election Day was Councilman Jim Kennedy, who was all but left for dead two months ago after a lackluster start to his campaign. Kennedy hired organizer Johnny Bardine to revitalize his campaign and ended up winning comfortably.

Once again, turnout on Election Day was disappointingly low, especially with almost half of the ballots being cast earlier by mail. The cost of staffing dozens of polling locations may be a factor in possible changes to when St. Petersburg votes.

Don’t cry for Angela Rouson. Despite losing to Steve Kornell in her first bid for elected office, Rouson has one of the brightest futures in local politics. What board or commission would not welcome her unique perspective?

Mark Ferrulo and Darden Rice await for election results at Ray Tampa’s Kizmet.

Despite running the kind of campaign that would have William McKinley look hyper-active, Jeff Danner won a second term on the St. Petersburg City Council. Here he is congratulated by colleague Karl Nurse. Danner, Nurse and Steve Kornell will, hopefully, represent a progressive bloc on the Council.

Bill Foster did not stop campaigning until the last vote was cast. He’s pictured here at Sunken Gardens along with volunteers from the PBA, the police union, which will have considerably more influence in a Foster administration.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Bill Foster takes pictures with his supporters at his victory party at Ferg’s.

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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