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Rick Baker to lead David Jolly’s re-election campaign against Charlie Crist

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, who was considering a run against Charlie Crist in Florida’s 13th Congressional District earlier this year, will now serve as campaign manager for David Jolly’s reelection bid for the seat.

“David Jolly’s heart belongs to Pinellas, it always has, and his experience in knowing how to get things done has never been more critical for all of us,” said Mayor Baker in a statement.

Baker has been a close ally of Jolly’s, and after Jolly had dropped his bid to run again in CD 13 last year to instead run for the U.S. Senate, Baker did not deny reports that he was seriously considering entering the race, before announcing in April that he would not run for Congress.

Jolly announced last Friday that he was giving up his Senate bid, and instead, would run again for reelection in CD 13. Jolly had originally stated last year that the redistricting of the CD 13 made it impossible for any Republican to run for the seat, but recent polling has undoubtedly readjusted his thinking there, as well as the fact that it’s been strongly rumored that GOP incumbent Senator Marco Rubio will opt to run for reelection for his seat (though Rubio has less than 72 hours now to make that decision).

Baker was a popular two-term mayor of St. Pete from 2001 to 2009, and since then has been rumored to be a possible candidate for a number of offices, but he has never pulled the trigger on any of them. Another rumor that continues to circulate is that he is thinking of challenging current Mayor Rick Kriseman for his old job in the fall of 2017. Baker currently works for uber-St. Pete businessman Bill Edwards.

“I can’t think of anyone more qualified and respected to chair my re-election effort,” said Jolly. “Rick Baker is a hometown champion who turned St. Petersburg into a ‘seamless city’ of hope and opportunity. It’s an honor to have him serve as Chairman of our campaign.”

When Baker dropped out of consideration for the CD 13 seat in April, Crist remarked: “Rick Baker is a good man, friend, and an influential part of our community here in St. Pete. I wish him nothing but continued success.”

Probably not too much success, however, considering Baker’s new gig.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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