Saturday, May 26, 2018
Politics

It's decision day in St. Petersburg's mayoral race

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Bill Foster and challenger Rick Kriseman have made countless arguments on why each should lead the city for four years.

The months of campaigning will come to an end today, with polls open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The former City Council members and lawyers plan to vote early, and then call residents to urge them to get out to vote.

Foster, 50, worked the phones Monday. In between calls, the mayor said he wants residents to consider whether they like the direction the city is headed. If so, they should give him four more years at the helm, he said.

"Get out to vote," the incumbent said as he dialed his phone. "It's all about momentum."

Kriseman, 51, had a similar message for voters.

"Are people satisfied with the leadership they have?" Kriseman asked. "Would they like a better St. Pete? We can do better."

This race, officially nonpartisan, has been one of the city's most partisan elections. It also has been the costliest. The men have collected a combined $613,576 in donations through Oct. 31.

Kriseman collected $331,441 versus Foster's $282,135.

In the campaign's final days, Kriseman drew notable $500 donations from former Gov. Charlie Crist and his wife, Carole, and Goliath Davis, the former deputy mayor and police chief fired by Foster in 2011.

The state GOP also gave Foster $18,850 and another $11,100 for direct mail and phone calls. Meanwhile, the Pinellas County Democrats gave Kriseman $7,600, while the state party donated $10,000 and another $7,100 for salaries and direct mail.

As of Monday, voters had returned 47 percent of the more than 62,466 absentee ballots sent out by the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office.

The 29,080 ballots nearly matches the 30,100 submitted at this point in the Aug. 27 primary election.

Foster picked up support from Gov. Rick Scott; while Kriseman won the backing of Crist, who announced Monday he will run against Scott as a Democrat.

But one heavily coveted endorsement in the race never came.

Former Mayor Rick Baker worked to help elect Foster in 2009, but didn't campaign or publicly endorse his fellow Republican this year. Kriseman and Foster both sought Baker's endorsement.

It's no secret that Baker is disappointed in the way Foster has handled economic development in the Midtown area, which includes the city's poorest areas. Helping African-American neighborhoods was a hallmark of Baker's eight years on office.

During more than 20 mayoral forums, countless residents lambasted Foster for not doing enough to help Midtown after he fired Davis. Two weeks ago, Foster announced plans to hire a high-level administrator to oversee economic development in Midtown.

As prominent Republicans begged Baker to endorse Foster, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, tweeted last week that "Rick Baker's silence has hurt the GOP on St. Pete Mayor's race."

Baker's silence likely aided Kriseman in the black community — a key group that could prove key to deciding a close race.

Contact Mark Puente at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow on Twitter @ markpuente.

 
Comments
More LGBT issues loom as justices near wedding cake decision

More LGBT issues loom as justices near wedding cake decision

WASHINGTON — A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through courts and will continue, no matter the outcome in the Supreme Court’s highly anticipated decision in the case of a Colorado baker who would not create a wedding cake for a s...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

I may have cracked the code. Found a way to sell doing the right thing. Discovered a method of persuasion in certain matters of fairness, conscience and the greater good.Like giving our fellow Americans a second chance.When morality-based arguments d...
Published: 05/26/18
North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a group of foreign journalists looked on. The explosi...
Published: 05/24/18
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Published: 05/23/18
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18