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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Former St Pete Mayor may take on Charlie Crist for Congress

Rick Baker

Rick Baker



With Charlie Crist planning to announce his candidacy for Congress Tuesday, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker is making things interesting.

The Republican, who won two mayoral terms by drawing overwhelming support from Democrats. is seriously looking at running too.

"I am intrigued by the idea," Baker said Monday evening. "A number of people I have great respect for have encouraged me to consider it and I will. I'll decide by early next year."

The newly redrawn south Pinellas County district is virtually impossible for any Republican to win, U.S. Rep David Jolly told the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club earlier this month, explaining why he opted to run for U.S. Senate rather than another term in the House. Barack Obama won the district as it's now drawn by nearly 8 percentage points in 2012 and Crist beat Republican Gov. Rick Scott by 15 points in that district.

"My only focus of consideration is whether this is the best way I can serve our community," said Baker, who currently works for businessman and philanthropist Bill Edwards.

Baker may be about the only Republican with a shot, having focused much of his energy as mayor on improving predominantly African-American neighborhoods that have been added to the district. He has strong ties and bipartisan allies throughout the district after serving as mayor from 2001 to 2010, winning reelection with 70 percent of the vote.

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[Last modified: Tuesday, October 20, 2015 9:28am]


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