Rick Baker has won the endorsement of another influential interest group with a winning track record in Tampa Bay politics.
On Wednesday, Baker’s campaign announced it received the backing of the Tampa Bay Builders Association.
“We appreciate both candidates for their leadership and service to the community, however, based on our experience we feel strongly that Rick Baker’s responsiveness to issues facing the community, and willingness to include all parties in conversations that affect development is key to St. Pete’s success,” said Mark Spada, president.
The Tampa Bay Builders Association represents homebuilders, remodeling contractors, carpenters, subcontractors and other building industry trade professionals in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Its 800 members employ about 30,000 workers, making it the second largest builders association in Florida (behind Jacksonville) and sixth largest in the nation.
The builders’ nod of support is the latest in a string of endorsements Baker has received. Last week, he won the backing of the city’s firefighters and, recently, the Associated Builders and Contractors endorsed him.
Baker touts his success in private-sector development as a reason why voters should give him a third-term in office. After serving as mayor from 2001 to 2010, left his role as vice president of Innovation Partnerships at the University of South Florida in 2012 to become president of The Edwards Group, where he led a group of companies involved in commercial real estate, hotels and entertainment.
At USF, the former mayor oversaw the development of school-business partnerships, research and development companies.
St. Petersburg executive and philanthropist Bill Edwards owns The Edwards Group, as well as Mortgage Investors Corp., the organization behind a wide range of renovation projects in St. Pete, including the Mahaffey Theater, Sundial and the Royal Theater.
As mayor, Baker led key business and community advances in St. Petersburg from historic redevelopment of the city’s Midtown neighborhood to the rebirth of downtown.
Primaries for both the St. Pete mayoral and City Council District 6 races is Aug. 29. If no one candidate gets 50 percent plus one of the vote – thereby winning the race outright — the two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 7 general election, which will also include District 2 and 4 races.