Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Despite primary win, Foster in predicament

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster's predicament is remarkable in so many ways.

Very few people think the city is heading in a seriously wrong direction. The panhandling problem that consumed the mayoral race four years ago is largely gone, and the homeless problem much improved. Foster steered the city through a historic recession, and these days construction cranes are working again.

And yet after Tuesday's primary win, Foster is on the cusp of becoming the first St. Pete mayor in 26 years to lose re-election.

Yes, he edged out Rick Kriseman for first place in what essentially was a three-person primary. But Foster heads into the general election facing the challenger that worried him most, Kriseman, and an electoral map that not only stands to be much different from prior modern city elections but one that in critical ways may favor Kriseman.

Kathleen Ford, the chief anti-status quo candidate who focused largely on opposing the new pier proposal, finished a distant third. Ask yourself: How many of Ford's nearly 10,000 voters are likely to now support Foster, the only candidate who supported the Lens proposal for the pier?

"With those two candidates still in the race, it's a crapshoot," said former City Council member Larry Williams, a Foster supporter.

The standard recipe for winning mayoral races in St. Petersburg is to win over the business community and then dominate northeast precincts as well as heavily African-American precincts south of Central Avenue.

Kriseman, 51, should be strong in western St. Petersburg, which he represented for a dozen years as a state legislator and city council member. Preliminary results Tuesday suggested Kriseman is also stronger than Foster, 50, south of Central Avenue, including precincts with significant numbers of African-American voters.

Count on former police chief and deputy mayor Goliath Davis, still bitter over Foster firing him in 2011, to do all he can to help Kriseman.

"You have someone who was let go from the city, and he just hasn't gotten over it," said School Board member Renee Flowers, who is officially neutral.

Foster's strength clearly is northeast St. Petersburg. In a two-person race, that's not enough, particularly if the business community remains mostly ambivalent.

A few pieces of unsolicited advice to hizzoner:

• At least try to act like you enjoy the job. Stop glumly telling audiences how you work many nights and weekends.

• Often it seems like the most powerful man in town is not the mayor, but mortgage executive/developer/music promoter Bill Edwards. You'd be well served to lean hard on Edwards soon to announce Baywalk tenants and perhaps even help out with the vacated grocery space in Midtown.

• There are valid questions about Kriseman's leadership and accomplishments as a council member and legislator. You need to do all you can to raise doubts about a challenger who otherwise looks like a safe alternative.

• You say you're negotiating with the Rays? Wrap it up.

• Stop complaining about Democrats helping Kriseman in a non-partisan race. It may end up only energizing Democrats, who are in the majority yet haven't elected a Democratic mayor since 1975.

• Finally tell voters what you want to do in second term. Otherwise, you may not get one.

Despite primary win, Foster in predicament 08/27/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 9:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate

    Corporate

    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.