The false equivalency of Dr. David McKalip’s campaign for St. Petersburg City Council

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So long as one is a resident of the city of Saint Petersburg and they live in a specific district for the requisite amount of time and they accurately complete the qualifying paperwork, they are as entitled as anyone else to run for the City Council.

That’s why you’ll never hear me saying ‘So and so shouldn’t run.’ 

If Kathleen Ford wants to run for public office, that’s her choice. Just as its my choice to oppose her candidacy. But she’s got every right in the world to run, no matter how many times she loses.

Likewise, as much as I vehemently disagree with Dr. David McKalip’s worldview, the man has every right to run for the District 4 seat on the St. Petersburg City Council.

That said, there is a false equivalency which has developed about Dr. McKalip’s candidacy as it relates to that of his chief opponent, Darden Rice, which deserves to be examined. He simply is not yet on the same footing as Rice in terms of being prepared to be a city leader. He does not have anywhere near the same level of experience or involvement as Rice. He has not built the same record of service as Rice. 

Yet, the local media, including this blog, have built up the race for District 4 as some sort of showdown between two relatively equal candidates; that this year’s municipal election is a clear choice between Rice’s do-goodering and McKalip’s needed austerity.

The campaign for District 4 is being framed as match-up of two equals when, in fact, it is not.

This is not to dismiss McKalip or to suggest that his way is the wrong way. That’s not what I’m suggesting. This is not about progressivism vs. The Tea Party, either.

This is about one candidate — Rice — who has decades of experience and involvement in the local community and another candidate — McKalip — whose calling card is that he, on at least a weekly basis, heads to City Hall and berates the elected officials and staff. Why he does this or what he hopes to accomplish from doing it is secondary to that is how much of City Hall knows Dr. David McKalip. As the mean guy who wastes three minutes of everyone’s time pointing fingers.

We’ve now seen David McKalip on the campaign trail for a couple of months and we’re now able to make a genuine assessment. This is what I am hearing, even from his closest political allies — many of whom are my clients and political allies.

“He’s just not very good on the trail,” said one mutual friend.”

“He comes across as a know-it-all,” is what several folks have told me.

“He has a God complex,” is how one prominent political player described McKalip after being asked to consider supporting him.

“He’s just mean.”

That last assessment is what I hear most often about Dr. David McKalip. That he is mean. That he is angry. That he is rude.

That’s too bad, because Dr. McKalip does reflect a certain part of the St. Petersburg community. But he’s so busy insulting his potential colleagues, on taunting his opponents on Twitter, on … on, just doing whatever he thinks he should do to be heard, that his message is being drowned out.

An ally of McKalip who is also a client of mine recently told me he told McKalip that he needed to get off of the blogs and the message boards and Twitter and remember that he is a first-time candidate who know one knows. He needs to get out into the community and introduce himself to thousands of voters. He needs to listen.

He needs to do all of this, said our mutual friend. And I agree with that friend.

Although I must add that only when McKalip has done all of this for ten years or so will he be  where Darden Rice is starting at in this campaign.

 

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.