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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Don't believe everything you hear in mayor's race



ST. PETERSBURG-- Local political circles are abuzz about who is running to replace Mayor Rick Baker, who leaves office a year from now because of term limits. But don't believe everything you hear.

Some of the potential candidates being discussed said they aren't interested.

State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, said he is not running, no matter what you heard. He said he is busy enough with the state House.

Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch is also not running, despite many rumors to the contrary. But that doesn't mean he is ruling out a future bid.

"I’m a St. Petersburg native and I care deeply about the city and certainly at some point I will consider that," Welch said.

Former council member Kathleen Ford, another widely discussed name, said it's doubtful she will run.

Only two candidates have formally applied to run: activist Sharon Russ and Paul Congemi, a former builder.

But others have said they will run and will formally announce early next year. That group includes: City Council Chairman Jamie Bennett, former council member Bill Foster, Amscot executive Deveron Gibbons and real estate investor/philanthropist Scott Wagman.

Meanwhile, the may-be-candidates include: council member Leslie Curran, former council member Larry Williams and state Rep. Rick Kriseman, D. St. Petersburg. 

Kriseman's candidacy is especially being scrutinized because he and Bennett are friendly and share many supporters. But Kriseman said he's undecided.

-- Cristina Silva, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:41am]


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