Wednesday, August 15, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Charlie Miranda may target seat held by fellow Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco

Guido Maniscalco filed for re-election in District 6 Thursday.

For now, he's the only candidate for the district that includes West Tampa, Westshore and Seminole Heights.

That political solitude may not last long.

His Tampa City Council colleague, Charlie Miranda, is pondering a run against him.  So is a Seminole Heights activist.

Maniscalco, elected after a nasty runoff with now-State Rep. Jackie Toledo in 2015, said he didn't know why Miranda might want to unseat him.

"I think he would have an easy re-election. There are so many open seats," said Maniscalco, referring to Miranda's eligibility to run again in District 2, a citywide seat. Miranda's fellow citywide council members, Yvonne Yolie Capin and Mike Suarez, are leaving because of term limits.

"With him, you never know," Maniscalco said of Miranda, but he floated a few possibilities about why he'd target Maniscalco.  Maybe it was because Maniscalco voted against Miranda for council chairman a few years ago? Maybe because they've come down differently on a couple of votes?

Is it  because their families squabbled over a shed when Miranda shared a property line with Maniscalco's grandfather in the 1970s?

"I wasn't even born yet,"  said Maniscalco, 33, the youngest city council member in any of the bay area's three largest cities.

Miranda said he hasn't made up his mind yet about challenging Maniscalco.

Someone recently asked him, Miranda said.  "Are you going to run in 2, 6 or not at all?"

One of those options is wrong, Miranda deadpanned: "Not at all."

"I'm not after him. I'm after a seat," Miranda said, declining to comment on Maniscalo's policy stances.

Miranda, a baseball aficionado, preferred to draw a analogy about a hypothetical opponent.

"As a pitcher you've got to understand who the hitters are. Just because they hit fourth, doesn't mean they can hit," Miranda said. "It's all in the eyes."

Maniscalco said the 2015 race taught him a valuable lesson.

"I had a negative campaign last time. There's no need for that in Tampa," he said. "I respect him. Charlie's an iconic guy. He's one of those people, he goes grocery shopping, he gets stopped every five feet."

Perhaps the biggest legislative spat between Maniscalco and Miranda came in 2016. An ethics complaint was filed against Maniscalco for accepting a free helicopter ride from St. Joseph's Women's Hospital during a tour. At the time, the hospital and city were embroiled in a lawsuit. Later, Maniscalco voted in favor of a negotiated settlement. Miranda didn't directly criticize his colleague, but had harsh criticism for the hospital.

Neither Maniscalco nor Miranda had anything to say about St. Joseph's on Thursday.

Darryl Paulson, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, said rumors that Miranda might recruit South Seminole Heights Civic Association President Stephen Lytle to run against Maniscalco might backfire.

"Interesting possibilities in this election," Paulson wrote in an email. "The normal expectation is for both Miranda and Maniscalco to run in the districts where they have already been elected.  Whether personal disputes will cause Miranda to directly challenge his arch-enemy remains to be seen.

"It will be difficult for Miranda to find someone to fight his battle.  If Miranda decides to challenge Maniscalco, he might not only lose, but potentially strengthen Maniscalco.  If the personal animosity runs high, it will definitely influence Miranda's decision."

Lytle, 36,  said he is considering a possible run in District 6, but might also decide to run citywide.  He called Miranda a "mentor," but said Miranda hadn't encouraged him to run against Maniscalco.

Miranda also said he hadn't urged Lytle to run against Maniscalco.

Miranda, 77,  said he won't make up his mind until December. The qualifying period for the March 2019 election begins in mid-January.

Miranda started in Tampa politics in 1974 representing West Tampa, and he said finishing his career representing the district would be nice. He also said most of the calls he gets as a citywide council member are from West Tampa.

"I guess people still think I'm in District 6," he said.

Maniscalco said he didn't think it will be awkward for the next seven months with a possible opponent sharing the dais.

"We say good morning to each other. We both love the city," Maniscalco said. "He's a grandfather figure. He's like Dick Greco."

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