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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pinellas Co: Exhibit A for why Fla dems road back to relevance could be long

ST. PETERSBURG — To understand the serious challenges Florida Democrats face clawing their way back to relevancy in America's biggest battleground state, consider Pinellas County Exhibit A:

It's a safe bet that Barack Obama will carry Florida's most densely populated county in November, even if Mitt Romney wins the state. The president won Pinellas by more than 8 percentage point fours years ago, after all, and Alex Sink comfortably beat Rick Scott two years ago in that GOP wave election.

But it's also plausible that once the votes are counted Nov. 6, Democrats in Pinellas will wind up with few — if any — other gains, despite their slight advantage in registered voters.

We won't know who's running until the candidate qualifying deadline closes at noon Friday, so it's too early for predictions. Still, we know that money matters in politics — sadly, more than anything else in many cases — and we know Republican legislative candidates are almost sure to have vastly more money than the Democrats.

Democrats will likely pick up a number of legislative seats across the state thanks to redistricting improving the competitive landscape. It will likely take several election cycles before they regain enough clout in Tallahassee to attract significant special interest donations, however, and that will have a key role in what happens in Pinellas elections this year.

Let's take an early look at the Pinellas political landscape, starting with local races.

Column here

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 4:12pm]


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