Should political parties target nonpartisan local races?
Local and state Democrats are aggressively targeting St. Petersburg's officially nonpartisan mayor's race to help put a Democrat, Kathleen Ford, in the mayor's seat, while Republicans so far are showing little organized effort to help Bill Foster keep the post in the GOP column.
"I don't really have any intention of getting involved. Most of the time the state party should devote its resources to state candidates … and leave the local races alone," said state Republican Party chairman Jim Greer.
Likewise, Pinellas Republican chairman Jay J. Beyrouti said he's leaving it to individual Republican activists to get involved in the St. Petersburg race as they see fit. It takes some hunting to find Bill Foster's name anywhere on the Pinellas GOP Web site, while Pinellas Democrats have Ford's smiling picture front and center on their site.
"While Democrats were working to get President Obama elected, Republican Bill Foster tried to stop Obama. It's time to say YES to change, and NO to Republican Bill Foster for Mayor," reads the message from Pinellas Democratic chairman Ramsay McLauchlan, who also frequently sends mass e-mails blasting Foster's creationist beliefs and past Republican activism. Not yet clear is how much money Democrats — or Republicans — will pour into the race.
But even as local party leaders push for unified support for Ford, prominent Democrats like state Reps. Bill Heller, Rick Kriseman, Janet Long and Darryl Rouson are staying on the sidelines.