One of my governing theories of politics is, because of the down economy, more and more people will consider running for elected office. Not because these people all hope to improve the state of government, but because elected office provides economic security, specifically, retirement benefits, in an era when such things are hard to obtain. I think you’ll see more races like the St. Petersburg Mayoral Campaign and the upcoming Tampa Mayoral Campaign, campaigns in which several candidates run creating a wide-open field.
A wide-open field of candidates may emerge in the race for the District 3 seat on the St. Petersburg City Council. Incumbent Bill Dudley has already filed for re-election, but his record has been so lackluster (initiating just one new business item during his three years on Council) that several potential challengers are considering taking on the popular, but do-nothing Dudley.
The name that has been bantered about recently is — gasp — Kathleen Ford. I know, I know, the idea of Ford returning to the City Council is absolutely frightening, but according to a prominent member of the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA), Ford has been telling friends that she very much wants to return to elected office and is considering challenging Dudley.
Another name being bantered about CONA’s circles is their former president Barbara Heck. Not sure if she lives in District 3, but there is talk she may run.
But not if the capable, uber-connected Ed Montanari gets into the race. Montanari was upset by Dudley three years ago, yet he’s remained a powerful figure around City Hall. With a better campaign (Montanari made the mistake of hiring Jack Hebert and the Mallard Group to run his campaign), the close supporter of Mayor Bill Foster could actually be formidable in a wide-open race.
Not as well-known as Ford, Heck or Montanari, political neophyte Darren Bishop has been calling neighborhood leaders trying to take their temperature about a possible run. Bishop is the president of the Northeast Park Neighborhood Association and married into the Lenderman clan.
Finally, the eager man-about-town Tom DeMint, he of RhinoPAC fame, is also said to be considering a run.