Racial politics trump partisanship in St. Pete races
ST. PETERSBURG — It's been more than 26 years since a St. Petersburg mayor lost re-election.
And that 1987 election barely counts, considering that Mayor Ed Cole spent exactly $2 on his re-election campaign, refused to let any volunteers work on his behalf and offered nothing but kind words for the ultimate winner, Bob Ulrich: "If I wasn't running, I would have voted for him myself."
No, Bill Foster's loss Tuesday was something else entirely, something truly astonishing.
More than 7 in 10 likely St. Petersburg voters told our pollster that the city is headed in the right direction. They fired the guy in charge anyway.
It barely makes sense, except in the context of how far St. Petersburg has come since it routinely elected kindly retirees as mayor, shed its chronic inferiority complex and emerged as one of the most appealing cities in the Southeast.
Bill Foster is a good man who presided over no corruption scandal, no violent racial unrest. He weathered a brutal recession and ended a panhandling epidemic that dominated the campaign trail discussion four years ago.
He aspired to be St. Petersburg mayor (or at least city manager) for much of his life. Once in the job, though, Foster ran into the city's new political reality: Adequate no longer cuts it.