Why is Tiger Bay hosting long-shot legislative candidate Ben Farrell?

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Here’s another post in which I talk out of school about my beloved Suncoast Tiger Bay, of which I am a board member.

Here’s another post in which I question the wisdom of my fellow board members — which I am sure just love.

That’s alright though, I’ll keep trucking on.

My question for my fellow Tiger Bay board members, specifically our ubiquitous Vice President, Anne Drake McMullen, is why did we invite long-shot legislative candidate Ben Farrell and sure-to-win incumbent Ed Hooper to speak at the panel on October 16? Farrell and Hooper are scheduled to speak along with the legislative candidates in the competitive races for House District 65 (Peter Nehr and Carl Zimmerman) and 66 (Lary Ahern and Mary Lou Ambrose).

There is actual interest in those races because those campaigns are competitive, relatively speaking.

The race between Farrell and Hooper is anything but competitive. Case in point is their fundraising. According to the latest campaign finance reports, Hooper has raised over $192,000; Farrell has raised just $11,355. There is no greater fundraising disparity between two legislative candidates than there is in this race.

Anecdotally, there is very little evidence that Farrell is mounting a legitimate campaign. Drive the streets of District 67 and there are few signs for Farrell. There is little mention of Farrell on Google other than his campaign website. Farrell’s Facebook page has just 44 “likes.” And I was hard-pressed to find a single news story about Farrell or about his campaign.

Yet, Tiger Bay will afford Farrell equal standing with not just Hooper, but the other four legislative candidates running in those other competitive districts.

This is not an argument to not include just Farrell, it’s an argument for not including both Farrell and Hooper. Their race is not considered competitive by anyone not named Farrell or Hooper.

Including Farrell and Hooper takes away time from the more interesting races in House Districts 65 and 66.

For Tiger Bay, this is the Greg Pound situation all over again. That’s when Tiger Bay included a write-in candidate on a panel of those running for Pinellas County Sheriff. Doing so was not just a distraction, it was an embarrassment to the organization as Pound was given a forum for his conspiracies.

Like Pound, Ben Farrell will be taking time away from legitimate candidates. Instead of seeing Ahern and Ambrose and Nehr and Zimmerman engage in a genuine debate, as only Tiger Bay can provide, there will be an unwieldy panel with this longshot candidate given equal footing.

How is that fair? To those listening in the crowd? To the legitimate candidates speaking? To the voters of Pinellas County who depend on forums, such as this, to help decide clarify the race?

The answer is, it’s not fair.

Still, I urge you to RSVP for this event. Ahern vs. Ambrose and Nehr vs. Zimmerman are must-see TV at this point.

But no one will blame you if you tune-out the rest of the program.

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.