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Elections | St. Petersburg mayoral race

St. Petersburg political endorsements: Who's backing whom?

ST. PETERSBURG — Ten candidates running for mayor. Some whose names you might recognize. Others you might not.

In such a crowded election lacking a clear frontrunner, something as simple as an endorsement list could swing hundreds of votes — and potentially the primary election.

Absentee ballots will be mailed out starting July 13. Primary election day is Sept. 1.

Prominent elected Democrats state Rep. Bill Heller and state Sen. Charlie Justice are supporting Scott Wagman.

Former state House speaker Peter Rudy Wallace is behind Kathleen Ford.

Former Mayor Randy Wedding is with Larry Williams and another former mayor, Bill Ulrich, is backing Bill Foster.

The city's best known boxer, Ronald "Winky" Wright, has lined up with Deveron Gibbons.

Who else is supporting whom? And who's on the fence?

>> list of prominent endorsements, Page 8

Who's backing whom in St. Petersburg mayor race

These lists are just a sampling of a candidate's support. Contenders new to the race, like Ed Helm and Richard Eldridge, aren't listed because they have not released endorsements. Candidates Alex Haak and Paul Congemi have no significant endorsements. For more on the mayor's race, visit

Jamie Bennett

Bennett has lured three Pinellas County mayors to his team and some of the leading activists for Albert Whitted Airport.

Bob Devin Jones, Studio@620

Pat Gerard, mayor of Largo

Mike Finnerty, mayor of St. Pete Beach

Mike Yates, mayor of Gulfport

Judy Ellis, president of the Lakewood Estates Civic Association

Ruth Varn, Albert Whitted Airport activist

Will Michaels, president, St. Petersburg Preservation

George Rahdert, St. Petersburg land owner and attorney

Bill Foster

The longtime City Council member's list of endorsements includes former City Council members, neighborhood leaders, and a former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher.

Suncoast Police Benevolent Association

Earnest Williams, former City Council member

Bea Griswold, former City Council member

Virginia Littrell, former City Council member

Connie Kone, former City Council member

Bob Kersteen, former City Council member

Frank Farkas, former state representative

Bill Klein, retired U.S. Army general and former mayoral candidate

David and Theresa McEachern, Midtown neighborhood leaders

Doug Waechter, former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher

Kathleen Ford

An attorney herself, Ford has the backing of two former Florida Bar presidents and a former chairman of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

Peter Rudy Wallace, attorney and former Florida House speaker

Pete and Shawn Veytia, owners of Red Mesa

Richard Sanchez, CEO, Advantica Eyecare

William G. Tapp, accountant and former chairman of the board of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce

Greg Bryant, president, Bay Cities Bank

William Blews, former St. Petersburg and Florida Bar president

Jake Smith, former Florida Bar president

Leroy Lewis, community leader in Lake Maggiore Shores

Deveron Gibbons

Gibbons has built the biggest bench of big name elected officials and 41 area black ministers. He also has the backing of money men like Pridgen and Desai.

Brent Sembler, vice chairman, Sembler Co.

Darryl Rouson, state representative

Gus Bilirakis, U.S. representative

Everett Rice, former Pinellas sheriff

Watson Haynes, minister and local community leader

Rev. Dr. Manuel Sykes, Bethel Community Baptist Church

Mike Atwater, owner, Atwater's Cafeteria

Grady Pridgen, developer

Dr. A.K. Desai, Republican fundraiser

Ronald "Winky" Wright, boxer

Dennis Jones, state senator

Calvin Harris, Pinellas County commissioner

Scott Wagman

Wagman has tied up two of the area's best known elected Democrats, Justice and Heller, and also has a helpful connection to the Sembler Co. and the money that might bring.

Charlie Justice, state senator

Bill Heller, state representative

Craig Sher, executive chairman, Sembler Co.

Darryl LeClair, CEO, Echelon Development Corp.

Dave Feaster, CEO, Cornerstone Bank

Arnett Smith, member of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority

Rev. Charles McKenzie, former state House candidate

Tracey Locke, co-founder, Fans for Waterfront Stadium

Larry Williams

Williams has some veteran hands in local politics among his supporters, including two former St. Petersburg mayors and a current member of the Pinellas County Commission.

Randy Wedding, former St. Petersburg mayor

Susan Latvala, Pinellas County commissioner

W. Fred Petty, former Pinellas County tax collector

Charles "Chuck" Rainey, former Pinellas County commissioner

David Meehan, president, Bankers Insurance Group

Reggie Ligon, former president, Suncoasters

Don Jones, former St. Petersburg mayor

Mayor Rick Baker:

Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch:

Florida Progress Energy CEO Jeff Lyash:

The Tampa Bay Rays:

Go Davis: ayor of Midtown" could galvanize African American voters. Davis did it for Rick Baker, a conservative white Republican. Among the candidates, he is closest to Gibbons.

St. Petersburg political endorsements: Who's backing whom? 06/13/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 13, 2009 4:30am]
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