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Black voters pick Kriseman in poll; negative mailer targets Ford

Straw poll winner

Rick Kriseman vowed to sway black voters once they learned more about him. He might be right.

The St. Petersburg mayoral hopeful won an overwhelming majority of votes in a straw poll Wednesday night after a debate at Bethel Community Baptist Church.

Of the 116 people who participated, Kriseman won 64.7 percent. Foster followed with 16.4 percent. Ford garnered 10.3 percent. Two other candidates and undecided voters tallied about 9 percent.

Early polls among the African-American community showed Ford winning the votes. Her campaign signs dominated neighborhoods south of Central Avenue. The surge came after Goliath Davis, a leader of the black community, declared Ford a viable candidate to lead the city.

Kriseman's camp had warned countless times that yard signs do not guarantee votes.

Gypsy Gallardo, publisher of the Power Broker and Grapevine magazines and a sponsor of the debate, called the poll results "shocking." She expected Foster's numbers to be higher.

"I never expected Kriseman's numbers to be over the top," she said.

After the debate ended, Gallardo said organizers sought a supporter from each camp to oversee the ballot counting. They couldn't find any Ford supporters to help, Gallardo said.

Clamoring for an endorsement?

In frequent debates and campaign stops, Kriseman often finds a way to show love for former Mayor Rick Baker. Kriseman, a Democrat, often says he crossed the political aisle to improve the city by working with Baker, a Republican.

But Kriseman isn't alone. Foster has showed some fondness for Baker without mentioning his name, calling Baker the "previous mayor."

An endorsement from Baker, now a top aide to businessman Bill Edwards, could help either camp.

Florida Realtors enters race

One of Florida's biggest lobbying groups has hit mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford with a negative mailer.

The Council for Stronger Neighborhoods, a group tied to the Florida Realtors, sent glossy mailers last week calling Ford "unfit to lead" and says she "is making a mockery of a yet another election."

Another side of the mailer says Ford missed forums and has attempted to ridicule an opponent over an "obscure, long-ago dispute on the City Council."

The Orlando-based group urges voters to "call Kathleen Ford and tell her we can't afford her desperate campaign tactics." The Council for Stronger Neighborhoods is registered at the same address as the Florida Realtors. The mailer follows the Pinellas Realtor Organization's endorsement of Foster in the Aug. 27 primary.

Cops and investigations

While answering a question on institutional racism at City Hall, Ford raised a few eyebrows with part of her answer. She said "white officers don't have to be sworn in, but black officers do" when being questioned for committing possible misdeeds.

"There is no truth to that," police spokesman Bill Proffitt said Thursday. "Everyone who goes to Internal Affairs gets sworn in. That is absolutely not true."

Mark Puente can be reached at or (727) 893-8459. Follow @MarkPuente on Twitter.

Black voters pick Kriseman in poll; negative mailer targets Ford 08/16/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 16, 2013 4:18pm]
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