Sunday, October 21, 2018
Politics

Romano: Great job, Mayor Kriseman, now don't blow it

The crowd was chanting, a Tom Petty song was playing and the re-elected mayor of St. Petersburg was expressing heartfelt thanks from the center of the stage.

This is what victory looks like.

In another four years, we’ll know if it’s also what vindication looks like.

This is your time, Rick Kriseman. Even more so than your first mayoral victory four years ago. That election started you on a new path, and this election will determine where you end up.

Where, in a real sense, everyone ends up in St. Pete.

RELATED: Rick vs. Rick: St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman completes comeback

You defeated Rick Baker on Tuesday in a race that stretched from spring to fall with the two of you seemingly running side-by-side the entire time. So take a bow. You deserve it.

But also know this:

You won the most votes, but you didn’t win as many hearts.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Recap of the St. Petersburg mayoral race and Pinellas elections

I’m sure it hurts to hear that, but you probably knew it already. You knew it when you turned a nonpartisan election into a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency.

The only way you were going to survive your day at the polls was by making the election a question of Democrats vs. Republicans instead of Kriseman vs. Baker.

If you look at it strictly by party numbers among registered voters in St. Pete, you should have begun the election with an 18-point advantage on Baker. And yet you won by 3.2 points. That would seem to indicate an awful lot of Democrats and independents either sat at home or decided to vote for Baker.

Kind of hard to muster a WOO-HOO out of that, huh?

I don’t say that to be mean, but rather to be helpful.

A local business leader recently suggested that you are a much better man than you are a politician. Maybe some people don’t think that’s a compliment, but I certainly believe it was meant that way. Especially since I think the opposite is true of far too many elected officials.

RELATED: The St. Petersburg mayoral race in 3 maps

Consequently, it’s when you try too hard to play the political game that you get into trouble. Whether it’s strong-arming City Council members or stiff-arming reporters, your tactics are more off-putting than your ideas.

Now, you could argue that these observations are overblown. That your first term was unfairly tainted by a sewage crisis that you inherited just as it was about to explode. And that, if not for broken-down pipes and a sewer department’s miscalculation on the Albert Whitted treatment plant, you’d have had a much easier ride during your first term.

RELATED: Penny for Pinellas: Voters overwhelmingly pass the tax for another decade

I’ll buy that.

But, if you’re being honest, it wasn’t the only problem. There were too many unforced errors along the way. Petty feuds about claiming credit, or hiding from blame. Voters might expect that on the state or national level, but it feels unseemly when you’re talking about a politician so close to home. And that perception ate into your support this year.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Editorial: St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman rides anti-Trump wave to second term

But here’s the good news: None of that matters today.

The election was narrow, but its effect could be colossal. Like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, you’ve been given an amazing gift. A chance to start over. To change the trajectory of a legacy.

Be the mayor everyone expected in 2013, and these squabbles and missteps will be long forgotten. There have been few questions about the goals of your administration, just the methods.

You have already represented the city well when it comes to the police department, the environment, the Tampa Bay Rays and the idea of connecting St. Pete with the larger region.

There is no doubt the city is in a better place today than it was a few years ago. It’s moving forward. It’s making a name for itself nationally.

For that, you should be proud.

Your acceptance speech Tuesday night was a great example of the mayor you can be. While Baker failed to congratulate, or even mention you, during his concession speech, you were gracious toward him, appreciative of the voters and uplifting for the city.

You’re a good man.

Don’t ever forget that.

Comments
Trump says US will pull out of intermediate range nuke pact

Trump says US will pull out of intermediate range nuke pact

ELKO, Nevada — President Donald Trump says he will pull United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.Trump says Moscow has violated the agreement, but provided no details.The 1987 pact helps protect the security ...
Published: 10/20/18
Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

You wouldn't skip a trip to the gas pump, would you?Then don't miss the chance to cast your general election ballot, either, when Hillsborough County opens its many early voting sites Monday morning for a two-week engagement.If you do your homework a...
Published: 10/19/18
Hernando commissioners face Democratic challengers, questions about contributions

Hernando commissioners face Democratic challengers, questions about contributions

Early voting begins Oct. 24.
Published: 10/19/18
Three weeks before election, tax foes organize to fight transportation measure

Three weeks before election, tax foes organize to fight transportation measure

TAMPA — No Tax for Tracks is putting the band back together.The group that campaigned against the failed 2010 transit referendum in Hillsborough has regrouped to fight a proposed penny-on-the-dollar sales tax hike for road, bus and transit projects. ...
Published: 10/19/18
Carlton: How a shortage of candor could tilt a commission race (Bribery scandal? What bribery scandal?)

Carlton: How a shortage of candor could tilt a commission race (Bribery scandal? What bribery scandal?)

In one of the most interesting local races around, first-time candidate Mariella Smith, a Democrat, looks like she’s got a longtime politician on the ropes.But forget, for a minute, that Smith’s opponent is veteran Republican Hillsborough County Comm...
Published: 10/19/18
Some of these Florida amendments aren’t worth your time

Some of these Florida amendments aren’t worth your time

For such a sacred document, we seem to give little thought to scribbling on, erasing and haphazardly expanding the Florida Constitution.Since a revised version was established in 1968, Florida voters have been asked to consider more than 175 differen...
Published: 10/18/18
Florida House District 67 candidates agree education is a priority, but disagree on what to do about it

Florida House District 67 candidates agree education is a priority, but disagree on what to do about it

Democrat Dawn Douglas says charter schools pull money from public education, while incumbent Republican Chris Latvala backed bill that sent construction money to charters.
Published: 10/18/18
In House 36, it's youthful incumbent vs. life-experienced activist

In House 36, it's youthful incumbent vs. life-experienced activist

Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, faces her first re-election test since her upset win two years ago.
Published: 10/18/18
Nevada’s famous pimp expected to win election despite death

Nevada’s famous pimp expected to win election despite death

LAS VEGAS — Nevada’s most famous pimp tried to bring the state’s legal brothel industry into the mainstream by mingling with celebrities, showcasing his business on HBO and staging outlandish publicity stunts.Dennis Hof’s fame made him an attention-g...
Published: 10/17/18
Daniel Ruth: For Hillsborough voters, transportation tax is leap of faith they can ponder while stuck in trafffic

Daniel Ruth: For Hillsborough voters, transportation tax is leap of faith they can ponder while stuck in trafffic

Perhaps one way to approach the ongoing community-wide debate over imposing a one-cent sales tax to pay for a variety of transportation needs is to think of all this dickering as a sort of family Thanksgiving dinner that has suddenly turned into a Th...
Published: 10/17/18