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Winners & Losers from yesterday’s election

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by
Forget about Bill Foster winning and Kathleen Ford losing, there were plenty of other Winners and Losers who emerged from the St. Petersburg Mayoral Election. Here’s a running list of who really won and who really, really lost.

Winners

The Architects, the Maestros, or whatever they call campaign managers nowadays: Johnny Bardine, Steve Lipinski and Darden Rice. Bardine, Jim Kennedy’s man on the ground, saved a campaign that had been floundering, Lipinski, Steve Kornell’s campaign manager, has put together a streak of impressive wins by paying attention to the details. Rice, who quarterbacked Karl Nurse’s re-election effort, deserves recognition for not just going through the motions. Instead, Rice set a blistering pace for a candidate who could have won without trying.

Rick Baker: Your legacy is secure. Now it’s time to lead St. Petersburg College through the same kind of renaissance you fostered in the city.

City Staff: How many resumes, which had been updated in advance of a Kathleen Ford victory, went back in to the drawer after Bill Foster emerged victorious?

St. Petersburg’s oh-so-vibrant Gay Community: If a bully keeps picking on someone, eventually that someone is going to ball their fist around a roll of quarters and knock the bully right in the nose. Steve Kornell’s candidacy was the balled fist and the tens of thousands of dollars that came in on behalf of his campaign was the proverbial roll of quarters. But while the gay community can savor Kornell’s victory, it suffered back-to-back defeats in the Mayoral Election.

Jack Hebert: The Mallard Group chieftain needed a big win after the collapse of his legislative candidate business (Farkas, Riley, Peluso, etc.) and he got it, producing the best TV commercial of the primary election, while delivering a smart direct-mail program for Foster’s campaign.

The PoPo: Backing a mayoral candidate who promised a “Guiliani-like” administration and an embrace of the Broken Windows theory of police work, St. Petersburg’s finest may be the biggest winners in a Foster administration. The cops were the backbone of Foster’s volunteer force and, this time, they outworked their rivals in the Fire Department. The rank-and-file is ecstatic at the prospect of the end of the Go Davis era and the hiring of a new police chief. And Foster will probably let them engage in high-speed pursuits.

This Blog: Yesterday, Saint Petersblog welcomed almost 10,000 unique visitors, the high-water mark for a new media outlet that, in a small way, helped shape the debate of St. Petersburg’s Mayoral Election. Without this blog, Deveron Gibbons or Scott Wagman, and not Bill Foster, could have very well been elected Mayor of St. Petersburg. Now, wait ’till you see what’s next.

Losers

Ding, dong, the witch is dead. I have no sympathy for Kathleen Ford the morning after her loss. She is a dangerous demagogue who played on the fears of far too many voters. Whether it was her clenched smile and rolled-back eyes, those atrocious scarves (it was frekin’ July), the outrageous policy statements, like wanting to sue the ABC committee for tortious interference, her comments about John Bryan or Goliath Davis or the Bronx Zoo of supporters she surrounded herself with, Kathleen Ford ran a horrible campaign. She should become the Candidate of Whom We Do Not Speak.

African-Americans – When Wengay Newton is the highest ranking elected official in city government from the black community, doesn’t that tell you something about the political influence of St. Petersburg’s African Americans. Deveron Gibbons lost and lost badly. He is already talking about running again in 2013, but he’ll never be able to raise the same amount of money because few of the supporters who backed him will be there in four years. As for Angela Rouson, don’t worry about her too much. She has a bright, bright future in front of her. But she is one of the few bright spots. City-wide poll numbers for many of the other prominent black leaders, including even Ken Welch, are in the toilet. And no matter whether Go Davis finds a role in a Foster administration, the era of the Head African American In Charge is over.

Charlie Crist – In a nutshell, Bill Foster does not like Charlie Crist, who blundered in his hometown by endorsing Deveron Gibbons. If Foster endorses Marco Rubio, as one prominent local Rubio supporter was speculating about last night, Crist may not even have St. Petersburg on his side in his bid for the US Senate.

The Firefighters: Two years ago, the endorsement of St. Petersburg’s Firefighters was the most important in city politics. Today, in the wake of Ford’s and Rouson’s losses, the Firefighters’ nod of approval is secondary to the support of the Police’s rank-and-file. And with a looming fight with Pinellas County over EMS, it’s not a great time for the firefighters union to show weakness.

The Florida Democratic Party – Despite supporting Kathleen Ford’s candidacy with the best direct-mail of the campaign, the FDP just cannot beat the GOP. But give credit to PCDEC chieftain Ramsey McLaughlin for making the local party relevant in a non-partisan race.

The Lunatic Left – I wonder what election Ed Helm ever won that continues to buoy him through loss after loss. Helm, the slate of candidates he pushed to run against the incumbents on the City Council and the activists who supported them — never stopped embarrassing themselves with their ridiculous antics.

The St. Petersburg Times – Yes, the candidate they endorsed, err, recommended won the election, but there hasn’t been this level of vitriol for the Times in a long, long time. While I personally (and most voters) agree with the direction espoused by the Editorial Board, the Times’ coverage of the Mayoral Election has been less than stellar. Even Howard Troxler’s columns seem to have lost their edge. Internally, the Times is a dog’s breakfast: according to a dozen sources in editorial, the newsroom, and operations, morale is at an all-time low. And that was before the 5% pay cut the staff had to swallow three months ago. As for its work product, it’s beyond obvious the Times does not have a coherent online strategy. Wait until espn.com/tampabay gets here.

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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