City parks permit suggests Nov. 4 launch of Crist's gubernatorial campaign
For those waiting for a sign of when or how Charlie Crist will announce he’s running for governor, behold a rather non-descript permit filed earlier this week with the city of St. Petersburg’s parks and recreation department.
First, let’s be clear. Nobody is saying what this permit is all about, including Crist himself. But once you follow all the circumstantial evidence related to the timing of it, who filed it, and the rather odd non-denial denials regarding who it’s for, it points strongly in the direction of a Crist campaign announcement.
Exhibit A is the permit, or contract #9090. It’s for a “rally” at South Straub Park between 7 a.m. and noon on Nov. 4.
The name on the permit? None other than local blogger and political consultant Peter Schorsch.
When contacted by a reporter Thursday, Schorsch was asked what the purpose of the rally was. After all, it comes a day before the St. Petersburg mayoral election. Since Schorsch has made clear he prefers Rick Kriseman over incumbent Bill Foster, could this be a rally in support of Kriseman?
According to Schorsch, yes, the event was a “pre-election eve rally.”
“I’m basically a Kriseman and a progressive supporter,” he said. “What precipitated this were the attacks on Kriseman.”
Schorsch explained that the rally was meant to “push back” on Republican ads.
Still, this rally wasn’t organized through the Kriseman campaign, Schorsch said. And while his name is on the permit, he said he’s not the one who is organizing the rally. When asked who was, Schorsch refused to answer.
Did this have ANYTHING to do with Crist? After all, Schorsch’s wife is Michelle Todd, a former close advisor to Crist who would set up events like this when he was governor. This is exactly the type of work she would do if she were working for him now. And Straub Park was where Crist announced he was running for the U.S. Senate as an independent in 2010.
Yet Schorsch said no.
“This is city stuff, this is city election stuff,” he said.
Well, what does Kriseman’s campaign manager, Cesar Fernandez, say about the rally?
“I didn’t know anything about this,” Fernandez said Thursday night.
Does he know who might be organizing it on behalf of Kriseman?
“I do not.”
When told it was Schorsch’s name on the permit, Fernandez said he was surprised.
“He hadn’t told me he was organizing an event for us,” Fernandez said.
Ok, that’s odd.
If Schorsch can’t name the organizer, and the campaign manager for the candidate who is supposedly the beneficiary of the rally doesn’t know anything about it, what’s really going on?
Schorsch hasn’t always been a font of reliable information when he becomes part of the news. So, just to make sure that this event had NOTHING to do with Crist, we asked the man himself.
First, regarding an unsourced assertion by the News Service of Florida report on Thursday that it was “widely believed” Crist was going to announce in St. Petersburg on Nov. 4, Crist said that was not so.
“It’s not widely known that I’ll be announcing until the words come out of my mouth,” Crist said Thursday night.
So the words hadn’t come out of his mouth, right?
Crist said he hasn't announced any date yet because nothing has been decided.
"But stay tuned."
Ok, so what about this permit for a rally at South Straub Park on Nov. 4 between 7 a.m. and noon?
“I don’t know anything about a permit,” Crist said.
How about the event?
“There are lots of events in the city of St. Petersburg,” he said.
Ok, does this particular event, on Nov. 4 between 7 a.m. and noon at South Straub Park in St. Petersburg have ANYTHING at ALL to do with the Crist campaign?
“I can’t confirm that,” Crist said.
And with that, Crist said he was late for a dinner.
“Look, I’ve tried to help you, but now I’m being rude and must go,” he said.
A reporter called Schorsch back just to make sure, again, that this event had nothing to do with Crist.
"This is a city gig,” Schorsch said. “This has nothing to do with Crist.”