In wake of Sykes scandal, should Pinellas Democratic chairman Mark Hanisee resign?

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Imagine for a moment the uproar that would unfold if the chairman of a local Republican organization told an African American that he would be “persona non grata” if he followed through with plans to run for Congress.

How quickly would the editorial boards, blogs and rest of the media pounce on this issue? How soon would said GOP leader have been driven from office?

Within days? Hours?

Yet, the above-described situation did occur, only it was Mark Hanisee, the chairman of the Pinellas Democratic Party, who told black minister Manuel Sykes that he would be “persona non grata” if he followed through his plan to run in Congressional District 13.

Besides a few comments at the bottom of the online edition of the story and some stray remarks on social media, there has been deafening silence about Hanisee’s comments.

This morning, we’re learning the true depth of Hanisee’s folly.

Kameel Stanley of the Tampa Bay Times reports that St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said he never had any intention to call Sykes and tell him not to run for Congress, as was suggested in a voicemail left a few weeks ago by Hanisee.

Kriseman said he is not sure why Hanisee told that to Sykes.

In that voicemail, Hanisee said party officials had spoken to the offices of two key Democrats, former congressional candidate Alex Sink and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, reports Curtis Krueger of the Tampa Bay Times.

“Neither one of them are endorsing you, nor is the (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee). They have another candidate,” Hanisee said. He added, “You better hold off, or, like I told you Sunday night, you are going to be persona non grata. Take that to the bank. That’s telling you the gospel truth. You’re going to be getting a call from Rick Kriseman, if you haven’t already, telling you to back off. Have a nice weekend.”

In other words, not only did Hanisee run the black guy out of the race, he lied about Kriseman’s position on Sykes running.

This isn’t the first blemish on Hanisee’s record.

As we first reported in August, Hanisee was arrested for a DUI.

If I am Rick Kriseman and I find out Hanisee is playing fast-and-loose with my name, you’re damn right I’m calling on Hanisee to resign.

The truth is, Kriseman should not be the only Democrat calling on Hanisee to resign.

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