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At the beginning of the race to be St. Petersburg’s next Mayor, there was a lot of smoke about how the candidates were utilizing the web to advance their message. Well, turns out there’s a lot of smoke, but not a lot of fire. Many of the candidates — Jamie Bennett, Deveron Gibbons, Bill Foster — haven’t updated their sites in weeks. Only one candidate, Scott Wagman, is really utilizing the power of online messaging to bolster his campaign.

I figure we can shame some of these candidates into updating their sites (it worked before with Gibbons), so here’s where the candidate sites stand, listed in order of their online presence:

Scott Wagman: Wags has, by far, the best online presence of the six major candidates. His site is chock full of self-produced YouTube vids, which, at times, can be a little overwhelming, too much Scott and all. The “Local Talk” function doesn’t appear to work well, either. Still, there’s a lot of great info on the site. Wags also does a good job utilizing Facebook and Twitter (although I am blocked from receiving his updates and have to use a pseudo to receive them).

It’s a steep drop-off from Wagman to the next candidate, in terms of online presence. Jamie Bennett used to have a strong online presence, but, since I resigned from his campaign, he has yet to update his website, which is very blog intensive. He hasn’t Twittered and his Facebook account is weak. I’m surprised Bennett did not utilize the web to re-launch his campaign.

Would you believe that despite Bennett’s lack of updates, he still has one of the biggest online footprints. That’s because Ford’s and Foster’s websites look like they were designed in 1998. And Deveron Gibbons’ website, although occasionally updated, offers nothing more than a few links to favorable Times articles. Gibbons has also been Twittering lately. Larry Williams’ website has a clean look and there is a lot of new text under the Issues section, but I don’t get the idea of Larry as some sort of modern candidate.

All in all, this campaign is reminiscent of the last mayoral race, when websites were some kind of new fad. You’d think that after the presidential election that more of these candidates would be engaged online???


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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