Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Politics

Political intrigue in Tampa's own House of Cards

RECOMMENDED READING


Behind-the-scenes lobbying. Rumors of powerful endorsements and political retribution. And the intriguing question of whether some of the voters will factor in that a candidate once implied they were butt-kissers.

It's all there in Tampa's own House of Cards.

Next week's election of the City Council chair is why some people love politics the way Netflix bingers can't wait to find out what that crafty President Frank Underwood will get up to next.

You may be wondering why there would be any intrigue whatsoever to this local post. The council chair — whom council members elect from their ranks — runs meetings and is generally the grownup in charge. This person does not get a fat salary bump, and it's more work for their staff. So besides a nice title and a gavel handy for quieting crowds gone unruly over the latest alcohol zoning, why else might you want it?

Ambition, perhaps.

The story, so far: A goodly number of council members are said to have designs on the mayor's office. Meanwhile, the current and term-limited occupant, Bob Buckhorn, is said to be mulling a 2018 run for governor and, the theory goes, could leave early. So who becomes mayor? Council chair, that's who, sitting pretty as already-mayor should they plan to run for the job, and earning a mayoral salary to boot.

What's the lineup for mayor looking like, at least theoretically? Council members Harry Cohen, Yvonne Yolie Capin and Mike Suarez are oft-mentioned as potential contenders. Lisa Montelione is off to run for the Legislature, youngest member Guido Maniscalco is still considered new, and Frank Reddick has said he is not interested.

Pencils ready for next Thursday's meeting intrigue?

Reddick, the current chair, was elected last year in a narrow surprise vote that deposed elder statesman Charlie Miranda, who had the job for four years.

Reddick has notably butted heads with the mayor over the creation of a citizens review board to oversee police cases, during which he said "some on the council" buckled to political pressure "and did not make the right choice." He also said he, unlike colleagues less inclined to challenge mayoral authority, was "not going to be a butt-kisser."

Reddick, the council's lone black member, this week said his fellow board members know he is "very passionate" about whom he represents. Interestingly, he previously suggested the chair position be rotated. Now, he says if council members feel he's done "a decent job, a respectful job" and vote him in again, he will serve.

Plot twist: Might there be a move to return Miranda? This week, he told me that if nominated, he would say no thank you. Might he be eyeing that mayoral seat? He only notes the election is not until 2019.

Notes on others in the mix: Cohen is the current vice chair. Capin says she wouldn't mind the job, though she likes the idea of drawing the name from a hat. Says Suarez, the swing vote that elected Reddick and ended Miranda's run: "We're all capable of being chair."

Rumors circulated that the police union was lobbying, though officials there could not be reached. Two council members said they heard that the mayor said if Reddick got chair, Buckhorn wouldn't run for governor after all, presumably to thwart any edge a sitting mayor gets — though the consensus was Buckhorn would be highly unlikely to let this tempest interfere with any larger ambitions.

Buckhorn said he did not say that and loses no sleep over the next council chair. In fact, he sounded disappointingly un-Underwood-like: "Obviously, Frank (Reddick) and I have had our differences, but it never stopped us from getting good policy done." And: "I can work with any one of them."

(He did, however, confirm a separate rumor that, when asked about speculation on a potential Hillary Clinton appointment rather than a gubernatorial run, he has joked that he'd really like to be ambassador to Ireland.)

If you plan to catch the action next week, don't be late. For all the pregame intrigue, it happens fast — last year, literally in a minute. Traditionally, candidates and their colleagues engage in no debate. We'll just have to read the plot between the lines.

Sue Carlton can be reached at [email protected]

 
Comments
Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to offer support to Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, saying the former state judge "totally denies" allegations that he sexually molested underage girls years ago."He d...
Updated: 7 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...
Updated: 7 hours ago
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...
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...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/20/17
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
PolitiFact: Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? Here’s why

PolitiFact: Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? Here’s why

Before gobbling turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie — or engaging in a well-informed political spat with your family — some of you might wonder where the Thanksgiving tradition originated.We wondered, too. So we talked with historians to get the facts s...
Updated: 2 hours ago
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: 11/20/17
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