Bill Foster picks up endorsement from Deveron Gibbons
ST. PETERSBURG -- Former mayoral hopeful Deveron Gibbons endorsed mayoral candidate Bill Foster Tuesday, a move that could help Foster win the city’s highly coveted black vote.
"I believe, after talking to both candidates, Bill Foster is the one who can lead us forward," said Gibbons, who finished third in the September primary election, at a thank-you party for supporters at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum.
The majority of black voters supported Gibbons, the only black mayoral candidate, in the primary. Gibbons urged his supporters to rally behind Foster.
"This is not over," he said.
Gibbons and Foster, however, were fierce rivals in the primary campaign. When a Newberry-based political organization sent out a mailer claiming Foster voted to raise property taxes eight times while on the City Council, Foster suspected Gibbons. To be fair, Gibbons often bashed Foster during candidate forums for not accomplishing more while on the City Council. Also, the political organization, Committee for Responsible Representation, had business ties to the Victory Group of Tampa, which worked on Gibbons' campaign.
Gibbons alluded to the primary tension during his endorsement speech.
"Three weeks ago, I wanted to win this race. I wanted to beat this guy," he said. "We left it on the field."
Foster brushed aside a question about Gibbons' alleged tactics during the primary.
"Doesn't matter," he said. "You put that all behind you."
Foster said he meet with Gibbons "a few times" before Gibbons decided to endorse him. Both men are Republicans. Foster's rival in the November general election, fellow former City Council member Kathleen Ford, is a Democrat.
Meanwhile, Goliath Davis, the city’s first black police chief, stood next to Gibbons and offered this confusing statement: "If you want to know where I am, I’m with my candidate."
Davis supported Gibbons in the primary.
UPDATE: Foster said he has not asked Davis to endorse him, and he doesn't think Davis was signaling he would endorse Foster because Gibbons had endorsed him.
We will follow up with Davis on Wednesday.
Cristina Silva, Times Staff Writer