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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Blundering through St Pete's racial politics



Adam Smith writes: Mayoral elections in this city, even entirely unpredictable ones like this one, ultimately come down to the same factor election after election. Race.

Bemoan it all you want. Pretend St. Petersburg has finally moved into the post-racial Obama era. Issues, not tired old racial divisions, are what count in 2009, right?

Nonsense. Ten days from now, it will probably be African-American voters who decide whether the next mayor is Kathleen Ford or Bill Foster, just as they've swung every competitive mayoral race for two decades.

The most remarkable thing about this contest is that it pits two of the most racially ham-handed candidates this city has seen in a long time. Racial politics are always a minefield, and in this election both candidates happily trudge through that minefield sporting giant clown shoes. To hear some of Foster's key African-American supporters tell it, the choice is between bad and disastrous.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:14pm]


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