Tampa's political Winners & Losers (post-runoff election edition)

in Uncategorized by

Tuesday?slate of elections in the City of Tampa certainly provided a list of winners and losers and I? not just talking about the candidates. Here is my list of the real winners and losers coming out of Tuesday? runoff elections (if I am missing someone, email me at [email protected]).


The City of Tampa: The best candidate, or at least the candidate viewed as the second best candidate even by his opponents and their supporters, won the election. That doesn’t happen all the time (please see Scott, Rick.)

Team Buckhorn – Siobhan Harley, Joe Farrell, Christian Marble, Andrew Lawrence; direct mail vendor Jon Coley, TV ad producer Dane Strothers, pollster Keith Frederick. How much more can be written about rising star Siobhan Harley? Not much. If you could buy stock in one Tampa Bay political operative, Warren Buffett would be telling you to buy, buy, buy stock in Siobhan, Inc. Only problem for her at this point is, if she doesn’t cure blindness within the next five years, she may not be able to live up to expectations. I heard good things about numbers-guy Christian Marbles and it’s great to see Jon Coley playing again in Tampa Bay, where he cut his political teeth under Jack Latvala.

Ella Coffee – Yes, she managed Tom Scott’s losing campaign in the primary, but Coffee made a principled decision to work for Bob Buckhorn after the general election. Take a look at some of the precincts in East Tampa, where Ella was on the ground, and you’ll see a lot of over-performance.

Tampa? Firefighters – Talk about putting your money where your mouth is?ampa? Firefighters got on board the Buckhorn bandwagon about a year ago and, boy, did their bet pay off. These were the guys walking door-to-door for Bob in the Florida heat last summer (although I assume the Florida heat is probably not much of an issue for dudes who put out fires for a living), The Firefighters were omnipresent at Buckhorn? victory party last night, just as they will be in a possible Buckhorn administration.

Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark. No Supervisor of Elections in the state of Florida is a more forceful proponent of voting-by-mail, which is how many, but not a majority yet, of Tampa voters cast their ballot. The Gospel of Clark accelerates the election calendar, sure, ad forces campaigns to spend much of their money ?racking?absentee and early voters, but voting-by-mail is increasingly becoming the preferred method of voting, not just in Clark? Pinellas County, but, as seen in Tampa, throughout Tampa Bay.

Richard Danielson, Mitch Perry and Christian Wade, but not the Bay Buzz or Fresh Squeezed Politics. Just great yeoman? work from theSt. Petersburg Times?Richard Danielson,Creative Loafing? Mitch Perry and theTampa Tribune? Christian Wade, who had to keep up with more than thirty candidates in eightdifferentraces over the course of a compressed election calendar. It ain? easy going to all of those monotonous candidate forums, but that? what these guys did. It ain? easy pouring over campaign finance documents, but that? what these guys did. It ain? easy brining life to municipal election held in the dead of winter, but that? what these guys did. The only downside of their work? For Danielson and Wade, it? their newspapers?failure to integrate online media into their journalism. Thanks for the market share, fellas.

Gotta movePatrick Manteiga and La Gaceta from the Losers to the Winners column. So much for Love that ?nyone But Ferlita?editorialo

Lisa Montelione and Co. – ‘Keep your eye on Lisa Montelione’ is what I’ve been saying ever since I met this fellow Long Islander. She’s got the brains and the moxy to be a force for the next decade in Tampa politics. Give her campaign staff — Marcus Garza and Nick Zatslo, among others – credit as well, most of them veterans of Obama for America/Campaign for Accountability/Alex Sink for Governor.

Some other consultants/staffers who deserve a nod are John Rodriguez for his work for Mike Suarez, Mike Fox for Yolie Capin and Henry Mosley for Harry Cohen. And it’s always nice to see my friend Gregory Wilson on the winning side of any campaign (Suarez).

Tampa’s Democrats, like Chris Mitchell and Jen Greenfield and many, many others were instrumental in many campaigns winning by the margins they did.

Tony DeSisto, Kelly Benjamin, Guido Maniscalco, Scott Strepina and Jason Wilson…wait, didn’t these guys lose in the general election? Yes, they did, but after their losses, they committed to remaining active in city affairs and, by all accounts, they will remain true to their words. Tampa needs these guys if it wants to develop its next generation of leadership.


Reince Priebus – Welcome to Tampa, Mr. Chairman. The Democratic Mayor and the entirely Democratic City Council welcome you and the 2012 RNC Convention.

I frekin’ hate calling my friends “losers” but I’d be remiss if I didn’t dog Anthony Pedicini for being in charge of a candidate, Rose Ferlita, who seemed to come apart during the last ten days of the campaign. It seems to be overlooked that Ferlita won the general and should have been able to absorb much of third-place finisher Dick Greco’s vote. But Rose could not decide if she was going to be hard-hitting or grandmotherly and her inability to define herself left her up to open to definition by her opponent. Defining is what Pedicini does best, but was not able to do here, but will certainly be doing again in 2012. Pedicini’s hot streak has come to an end. That just means it’s time to begin another one.

Of course, there is a lot of blame to go around for Ferlita’s loss. I’m looking at you Laura Ware, Jay Burmer (really!), Colleen Mackin and Mary Repper and Ferlita’s web designers over at Team Allita.

Mackin gets another mention in the “Losers” column for her work for Curtis Stokes, who came off like a hung dog on the campaign trail.

Equality Florida and Tampa LGBT community were confused from Day One about what to do in this election. Do they support the “unmarried” Ferlita, who became a symbol for women’s independence, or Buckhorn, their natural political ally. Sure, Equality Florida ended up supporting Buckhorn, but a lot of their members were not happy with that decision.

My nemesis Mitch Kates, who I guess had no candidates to suck the blood out of, ended up jumping on the Buckhorn bandwagon at the eleventh hour. Nice try, Jason the Terrible, but your move was waaayyy too obvious. Same goes for my ol’ colleague Barry Edwards, who couldn’t get close enough to Dick Greco/Greg Truax before the general and, according to several in the Buckhorn Campaign, never got as close to the Mayor-elect as he’d you to believe.

My friend April Schiff, no matter how classy she is, had a tough election cycle with Chris Hart losing to Yolie Capin in the general and Joe Citro failing to make the run-off. Couple these losses with her friend Deborah Cox-Roush’s surprise loss for Chair of the Republican Party of Florida and it’s been a tough year for Schiff.

And the biggest loser out of Tampa’s municipal elections? Whoever sent that damn anonymous “Unmarried” mailer.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.