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Winners and Losers from Pinellas’ elections

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by
Today’s city commissioner is tomorrow’s state legislator. And today’s state legislator is tomorrow’s congressional candidate. Or so I’ve always thought and that’s why I always pay attention to the results of even the smallest town’s municipal elections. Yesterday’s slate of elections in Pinellas County certainly provided a list of winners and losers and I’m not just talking about the candidates. Here is my list of who won and who lost as a result of Pinellas’ municipal elections.

Winners:
The most obvious winners out of yesterday’s elections are Experience and Status Quo. In Clearwater, where Bill Jonson won, in Oldsmar, in Seminole, where Tom Barnhorn will return, in Tarpon Springs, where David Archie triumphed and along the Gulf Beaches, the more experienced candidates won out.

One of the clear beneficiaries of yesterday’s election results is Pinellas County first Executive Mayor, err, I mean political consultant, err, I mean County Commissioner Neil Brickfield, who had a hand in shepherding David Archie to the mayor’s office in Tarpon Springs and Bill Jonson’s return to the city council in Clearwater.

SoE Deborah Clark deserves credit for running yet another clean set of elections. And her emphasis of voting-by-mail is paying off: in Clearwater, early voting by mail accounted for 75% of the approximate 8,000 votes cast.

I told my Republican friends to write her name down, because they are going to be hearing a lot from her: Ella Coffee, who along with Mike Fox, helped Linda Norris win in Oldsmar. Coffee’s next gig is helping Russ Patterson win a seat in the Florida House.

Just when the polls were showing her race tightening, County Commissioner Susan Latvala may be the biggest winner out of yesterday’s elections after her primary opponent Beverly Biliris got snagged in a petition-gathering snafu that may have violated federal election laws.

And I have to give credit where credit is due: Ian O’Hara guided David Hastings to a win in the competitive Gulfport City Council race.

Losers:

He has two years left in office, but with Jonson’s election, Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard becomes something of a lame duck. And any decisions the city makes will have to be viewed through a George Cretekos vs. Bill Jonson mayoral race perspective.

A gambler by heart, consultant Steve Lapinski knows that all winning streaks must come to an end. His ended with Stanley Solomons disappointing fourth-place finish in Gulfport. Also, the Pinellas Stonewall Democrats invested heavily in Solomons campaign — an investment that didn’t pay off like its efforts for Steve Kornell.

The St. Petersburg Times coverage of all of these races was anemic, which is fine by me, because hyper-local coverage of community news is what Saint Petersblog (hopes to) offer(s). There was a time when Anne Lindberg and Diane Steinle would have written about these campaigns every day, but not anymore. Not even on the Times’ Bay Buzz, which is suppose to cover local politics.

The local political parties didn’t exactly lose yesterday, but they certainly didn’t win. So much attention is going to the top-of-the-ballot races that neither the Pinellas Democrats nor the Pinellas Republicans got that involved in many of the campaigns.

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.

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