Monday, November 20, 2017
Politics

Kriseman-Baker debate set for July 25 sponsored by the Times, Bay News 9, St. Pete College

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG — The biggest mayoral contest in city history is going primetime.

Mayor Rick Kriseman will debate former Mayor Rick Baker in front of a live television audience July 25 at the Palladium Theater in downtown St. Petersburg. The debate is sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9 along with the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College.

SUNSHINE CITY SHOWDOWN: Keep up with the Tampa Bay Times coverage of the St. Petersburg mayoral race.

Rick vs. Rick: Closing Albert Whitted sewage plant could impact St. Petersburg mayor's race (May 29, 2017)

In St. Petersburg's mayoral race, Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker rake in the big bucks, exceed $500,000 each (June 8, 2017)

Rick vs. Rick: Which St. Petersburg mayor paid the highest salaries at City Hall? (June 12, 2017)

FOR MORE COVERAGE: All the Times coverage of the mayor's race is one click away.

The hour-long debate will start at 7 p.m. and be moderated by Times Political Editor Adam C. Smith and Bay News 9 anchor Holly Gregory.

"The tale of two mayors is one of the most substantial and competitive races we've seen in some time," Times Editor Neil Brown said. "The Times has convened mayoral debates in St. Petersburg and Tampa for every race in recent memory and so we're excited to partner with Bay News 9 to bring about a signature conversation in this campaign."

The timing is auspicious: Earlier that day, ten of thousands of mail ballots will start going out to Sunshine City voters for the Aug. 29 primary election.

Kriseman, 54, a Democrat, and Baker, 60, a Republican, will have at least one additional opponent in the nonpartisan mayoral contest.

Jesse Nevel, 27, qualified in the mayoral race. He is running in coordination with another candidate associated with the African People's Socialist Party. Several other potential candidates have announced plans to run for mayor. The exact number who qualify for the ballot won't be known until the qualifying period ends Friday at 5 p.m.

The Times, Bay News 9 and St. Petersburg College invited only Kriseman and Baker to the debate. In the absence of complete local polling, the Times decided to rely on fundraising totals to determine which candidates will participate.

Within a month of Baker's entry into the race, he and Kriseman smashed all previous fundraising records for a St. Petersburg mayoral race. Each has collected more than $500,000. For now, Baker has an edge in campaign cash, both in the amount raised and in cash on hand.

If a candidate gains more than 50 percent of the vote in the August primary, the election is over. If no one can reach that threshold, they'll battle on until Nov. 7.

The two leading candidates haven't appeared in a candidate forum or debate, but have repeatedly jousted in the press.

Kriseman portrays Baker as an out-of-touch Republican who would take the city backward. The incumbent touts his record of inclusion and support of the LGBT community, economic development and resolving longstanding city stalemates over the future of the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg and a replacement for the pier. He frequently ties Baker to national GOP politics, especially President Donald Trump and climate change denial.

Baker charges Kriseman with playing partisan politics in a nonpartisan election. He says his record as mayor from 2001-10 demonstrates his ability to unify an increasingly fractured city along racial and class lines. He also blames Kriseman's lack of leadership for the recent sewage crisis that saw the city release 200 million gallons of sewage since August 2015, drawing attention from state and federal investigators.

The Kriseman campaign issued a statement Tuesday saying the mayor looked forward to discussing his record.

"I look forward to a debate about how we can keep St. Pete moving forward," Kriseman said. "My administration has a clear record of delivering progress for St. Pete by reducing crime, addressing our infrastructure needs, and keeping St. Pete's economy moving forward.

"I'm excited to talk about that record and how we can continue to lower crime and create even more opportunity for everyone in our great city."

The Baker campaign also sent out a statement.

"I welcome the chance to discuss my vision for moving St. Petersburg forward, toward the goal of a seamless city," Baker said, "while reversing the damage done by Rick Kriseman to our sewer system, pier, and city finances over the past four years."

The Times has produced debates for local, state and national office for two decades, including races for the mayors of St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida governor, the U.S. Senate and the 2012 Republican Primary Presidential debate.

Contact Charlie Frago at [email protected] or (727)893-8459. [email protected]

Comments
2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A second woman has accused Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching.Lindsay Menz tells CNN that Franken placed his hand on her bottom as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, two years into Fran...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott’s tourism chiefs at Visit Florida spend a lot of public money taking trips to exotic places to promote Florida as a top worldwide destination.Four former top-level staff members at the state’s tourism promotion and its c...
Published: 11/20/17
Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

TAMPA — A week ahead of the expected vote on a controversial tax reform bill, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., visited Tampa to deliver a message to small businesses: This bill will hurt you."Small businesses are the economic engine of F...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said Sunday that the White House is willing to remove a contentious provision taking aim at the Affordable Care Act from the GOP tax overhaul plan if politically necessary, a move ...
Published: 11/19/17

Many Christian conservatives are backing Alabama’s Roy Moore

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama’s Christian conservatives see Roy Moore as their champion. He has battled federal judges and castigated liberals, big government, gun control, Muslims, homosexuality and anything else that doesn’t fit the evangelical mold. ...
Published: 11/19/17
Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

WASHINGTON — It’s been nearly six years since the Senate Ethics Committee conducted a major investigation of a sitting senator. Next year, the panel could be working nonstop, deciding the fate of up to three lawmakers, including two facing allegation...
Published: 11/18/17
Hillsborough seeks payback for ethics complaint but history shows that could be pricey

Hillsborough seeks payback for ethics complaint but history shows that could be pricey

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners recently decided to go after the pocketbooks of several residents who filed unsuccessful ethics complaints against one of their colleagues.If history is any indicator, the maneuver is more likely to cost taxp...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/19/17
In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

UTICA, N.Y.Pat Marino pulled into the shop on a cold, wet Thursday and stood close as a young mechanic with gelled-up hair and earrings lifted the truck and ducked underneath."You need a little bit more oil," the mechanic said."Five quarts wasn’t eno...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/18/17
As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

WASHINGTON — "You can do anything," Donald Trump once boasted, speaking of groping and kissing unsuspecting women. Maybe he could, but not everyone can. The man who openly bragged about grabbing women’s private parts — but denied he really did so — w...
Published: 11/17/17
Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama’s Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women Friday to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans, and women...
Published: 11/17/17