With the exception of tanking approval ratings for the GOP, and increasing frustration with the government shutdown, nothing really changed in Washington, DC last week. No laws were passed, no important national policies enacted, no critical debates about the direction of the world’s most powerful nation. With the exception of the nomination of Janet Yellen to chair the Federal Reserve Bank, and the continued marginalization and rightful villainization of Senator Ted Cruz, everything in DC was very, very quiet.
Here in Pinellas County, everything changed.
Any other week, and the political news du jour might have been St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster’s flat-out lie about his support for off-shore drilling. It was an incredible fumble from someone leading the fourth largest city in Florida, easily disproved by the Kriseman campaign and everyone else. Foster was for drilling before he was against it. And it if wasn’t that, it might have been the horrible, bigoted robocall made by the Steve Galvin campaign, made all the worse by his confounding, nonsensical explanation.
But both Galvin and Foster were cut a break, of sorts, when Congressman Bill Young announced that he would not seek re-election in 2014. Names of those who will try to fill his shoes immediately began to fly in and out of political circles. Alex Sink recently announced she would not run for governor again, but seems determined to stay a part of the conversation, indicating she is “very interested” in running for the seat.
Several folks bowed out early, including County Commissioner Ken Welch and State Senator Jeff Brandes, two guys I thought for sure would be in it. Still, the dynamics of Young’s retirement will affect virtually every quarter of politics — Democratic and Republican — in Pinellas County for the foreseeable future.
While people wait for some Republican — any Republican — to come to their senses and help get the federal government to get moving again, people here will watch the race for the new District 13 shape up. And as that story subsides, we’ll remember: voting in St. Petersburg actually started a few days ago. Vote-by-mail ballots are already being returned. Many hundreds, even thousands of St. Petersburg residents will have already voted by the time Election Day rolls around.
In Washington, DC, everything stayed pretty much the same. Last week, here in Pinellas County, everything changed. What will things look like next week?