ST. PETERSBURG — On Friday, Rick Baker's campaign capped a week of attacks on Kevin King, chief of staff for Mayor Rick Kriseman.
The 1-minute radio spot accused Kriseman of tolerating King's 2001 arrest involving solicitation of underage girls and assigning city education policy to his top aide's portfolio.
The first 30-seconds of the ad is audio taken directly from a previous TV ad detailing King's arrest. King said he was never convicted of any crime.
Baker says he has "zero tolerance" for King's behavior, but Kriseman "not only tolerated it, he promoted it," by hiring King.
Then Baker segues to charging that Kriseman looked the other way when fringe mayoral candidate Paul Congemi told supporters of Uhuru-affiliated candidate Jesse Nevel to go back to Africa.
In fact, Kriseman condemned Congemi's statements the next day and said he regretted not speaking out during the July forum at City Hall.
"This has got to stop," Baker said in the ad. "On Nov. 7, it will."
Kriseman has said Baker's attacks on King were sad. His campaign has called them desperate.
Local polls show a very tight race in the final days of a race that has drawn national attention and endorsements of Kriseman by former president Barack Obama and his vice president Joe Biden. It is the most expensive race in the city's history, likely to top $3 million in contributions to the two Ricks.
The race is also seen as the nastiest in Sunshine City history with both sides and surrogates slinging charges that are increasingly bitter and fact-challenged in the past few weeks.