Time was, the Tampa Bay Times’ featured columnist did not have to designate which city he was referring to when talking about possible candidates lining up to run for mayor of the city. It was just assumed they were referring to Saint Petersburg. But in the current environment of forced regionalism, the columnist could be referring to St. Pete or Tampa or anywhere between Apollo Beach and Zephyrhills.
Unfortunately — very unfortunately, actually — this is no longer the case with the Times and so John Romano’s preview of next year’s St. Petersburg mayoral race is headlined, “Foster, Welch, and Kriseman likely to run for mayor of St. Petersburg in 2013.”
My issues with Romano’s analysis, perhaps predictably, do not end with the headline.
First of all, Romano reaches several faulty assumptions, including this one about Kathleen Ford, who he mostly dismisses because “a six-point loss to Foster in 2009 makes her an underdog.”
As much as I’d like to peg Kathleen Ford as the underdog in any race she runs in, that just isn’t the current situation. Because of the ongoing debate about the future of the Pier, the former city councilwoman and two-time mayoral candidate is likely the front-runner to defeat Foster.
For a multitude of reasons, there aren’t many folks who seem especially satisfied with Bill Foster.
- The African-American community has not been this dissatisfied since 1996, especially since Go Davis was fired.
- Democrats never liked Foster to begin with.
- The gay community views Foster, literally, as a dinosaur.
- Many neighborhood leaders see him as ineffectual.
As for Foster’s natural allies in the business community, their common complaint is that Foster is no Rick Baker. In fact, much of the conversation about whether Foster deserves re-election is not coming from Foster’s left, but from leaders in the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Partnership and other business and development interests.
Does all of this dissatisfaction rise to the level where Foster could be defeated in 2013?
Just look at the comments at the end of Romano’s column. If they are any indication of support for Kathleen, she may just take 50% of the vote in the primary. Now, I don’t that’s going to happen, but for Romano to frame the race as Foster, Welch and Kriseman is incomplete.
Romano’s column, at least as its headlined online, is misleading because it makes it sound like Welch is likely to run and that Welch and Kriseman might both run.
First of all, Rick Kriseman and Ken Welch would almost never run against each other. These are two political allies, not adversaries. In 2009, the last time the two were rumored to be considering a mayoral run, they had lunch together just to make sure they didn’t step on each other’s toes.
Bottom line: There’s no way, no how both Kriseman and Welch end up running against each other.
Not that Welch is likely to end up on the ballot. Romano accurately writes that a court battle over term limits could cost Welch his seat on the County Commission in early 2013, prompting him to run for Mayor. But is it likely that that’s how the case will be decided? Not according to anyone whose legal opinion holds much weight. Since it’s not likely Welch will lose his seat, it’s not likely he will run for Mayor in 2013. Romano’s headline, therefore, is misleading.
Of course, Romano is right about a couple of things. Next year is 2013. And there will be an election.