For the second time since the end of the primary election in the race for St. Pete’s City Council District 6 seat, Justin Bean is making it a point to let voters know that, while he may be a Republican, he’s not a Donald Trump Republican.
“I’m really upset with what the president has done, attacking the LGBT community, his denial of climate change, and dividing this nation, and I don’t want to see that happen to our city,” the 30-year-old businessman said during his closing remarks at a candidate forum held Monday night at City Hall.
Of the eight contenders running for City Council, only two are registered Republicans — Bean and mayoral candidate Rick Baker. That matters in a city that went for Hillary Clinton by 24 percentage points last November.
Democrats in Florida are following the election between Baker and incumbent Rick Kriseman with intense interest, especially after Barack Obama endorsed Kriseman on the last weekend before last month’s primary election.
While distancing himself from Trump, Bean acknowledged Monday that he did attend the president’s inauguration in Washington, but added that so did Democrats like Charlie Crist, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Clinton.
A day later, more than 20,000 people participated in the Women’s March in St. Petersburg, the largest in the city’s history.
Bean is running against Democrat Gina Driscoll, and he said Monday that “unfortunately this race has become extremely partisan, and I’m disappointed by that. There’s no secret that I’m a Republican and I’ve been attacked for being that.”
Although there appears to be no organized effort by Driscoll’s campaign to emphasize the difference in ideology to date, messages have floated over social media questioning Bean’s political affiliation.
For example, this picture appeared last week after Bean failed to attend a forum last Wednesday at the Sunshine Center.
Hours after a Sept. 1 machine recount determined Driscoll had defeated Robert Blackmon, Bean took to his Facebook page (and later released a statement) saying that while he was a proud Republican, he wasn’t with Trump.
“Donald Trump was not my choice for President but, after his election, I joined all Americans in hoping he would do great things,” Bean wrote. “Unfortunately, this President has fallen short of the hopes I had for him, especially when it comes to his moves to keep transgender persons from serving in our armed forces.”