Reverend Louis M. Murphy, overseeing the largest African-American congregation in Pinellas County as senior pastor of Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, is endorsing Rick Kriseman for re-election as St. Petersburg mayor.
Although the Tampa Bay Times first reported the news Sunday, the Kriseman campaign made it official in a statement late Monday afternoon.
“I am proud to support Rick Kriseman for Mayor,” said Murphy. “As Mayor, Rick has worked hard to reduce crime and make our community safer. He has brought jobs and economic development to St. Pete and invested heavily in our young people. Now more than ever, it is critical that we elect leaders like Rick Kriseman who will stand up to attacks from Tallahassee and Washington, and continue fighting for our community.”
The news comes a week after at least 28 black pastors came out in support of former Mayor Rick Baker.
“I’m humbled by the support of such a respected and influential faith leader in our community,” said Kriseman. “Pastor Murphy is a tireless advocate for his congregation and for families and children throughout our city. His guidance has helped me be a better mayor and has helped to improve the lives of so many in our community. I look forward to continuing to work with him on the 2020 plan for poverty reduction and opportunity creation, and ensuring that ‘A New Deal’ for St. Pete becomes a reality.”
Murphy’s church was the site of the first mayoral debate of the campaign season between Kriseman and Baker, arguably the best forum of the race.
The mayoral primary takes place Tuesday, August 29. Other candidates on the ballot include Anthony Cates III, Paul Congemi, Theresa Lassiter, and Jesse Nevel.