Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

With Bill McCollum’s announcement, has Rick Baker’s political career come to an end?

in Statewide/The Bay and the 'Burg by
He is the popular mayor of the fourth largest city in the fourth largest state with a proven record of achievement and yet Rick Baker may have hit the ceiling as far as his political career is concerned. With Bill McCollum announcing that he will not run for the U.S. Senate — thereby guaranteeing a bid for re-election as Florida’s attorney general — and Alex Sink’s decision to remain as CFO, Baker now founds himself without an open office for which to run.
Sure, there’s Bill Young’s congressional seat in a few years or maybe he will challenge Sink, but neither of those scenarios are likely. Baker has never seemed like the speculative type, so I can’t envision him taking on Sink when he’s as aware as anyone of his marginal chances to beating her. As for Young’s seat in Congress, again, it’s a matter of personality: I can’t imagine Rick Baker as just one of 435 represenatives — and in the minorty to boot.
So what to do, what to do?
I think Baker has an opportunity in this year’s mayoral election to cement his legacy by insuring that the right type of person succeed him, meaning he can’t let either Kathleen Ford or Bill Foster win. Can he come out and endorse? Probably not. He’s got too many friends running to replace him. But he could signal to his allies that he is not be opposed to them backing candidates that would be more likely to continue Baker’s work.
Because if Rick Baker is to find that second act in Florida politics, he has to make nsure that the work he’s done in St. Pete is not overturned by someone like Ford. There may not be as many job openings as Baker would like, but who knows what could happen between now and 2010 or 2012. My mentor Dr. Susan MacManus makes it a point to remind folks of all the predictions made over the last two years that proved to be terribly wrong.
Maybe Charlie Crist ends up running for the US Senate, thereby creating a void in the Governor’s Mansion. Both McCollum and Sink could end up running to replace Senator Charlie Crist and, voila, Rick Baker’s right back in the game.
Just make sure the guy to whom you turn over the keys to the city has your back.

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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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