Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Special election for Tampa City Council heating up

Two new candidates and placement on the Nov. 8 general election ballot are further complicating the special election for a Tampa City Council seat to replace Lisa Montelione in District 7.

The presidential election ballot means unprecedented high turnout for the down-ballot city council race.

It's a non-partisan election and candidates don't run by parties, but some political experts say the high turnout could help the candidates who are registered Democrats and the two who are black.

But it's also unlikely any candidate will get 50 percent, which means a runoff Dec. 6 and turnout likely to be lower than usual for a city election. That could help any non-Democrat who makes it into the runoff.

New Tampa resident Avis Harrison and Jim Davison, a physician and previous GOP candidate for county commissioner, are new to the race, joining newspaper editor Gene Siudut, retired Tampa police officer Orlando Gudes, health care data analyst Cyril Spiro and lawyer Luis Viera.

Viera has the backing of big-name Democrats; Siudut's boss, La Gaceta publisher and Democratic operative and insider Patrick Manteiga is pushing his campaign.

Davison said he believes partisan politics is influencing the race, citing Viera's backing.

"I think it would be nice to have a Republican on the City Council for a change," he said.

One interesting wrinkle: Republican state Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, who once held the seat, has contributed through his political committee to Avis Harrison — no relation — and said he hasn't made any endorsement but is helping and encouraging her.

Avis Harrison is a no-party registrant, but GOP operative Anthony Pedicini is working with her, partly because of his relationship with Shawn Harrison.

Pedicini noted that more than a third of the Democrats in District 7 are black, which could help her or Gudes in the initial vote.

Democrats have roughly a 3-2 voter registration advantage in the district, but among likely voters, their advantage declines to 14,681, with 9,803 Republicans and 7,789 others, he said.

More or fewer candidates are still possible; qualifying is Sept. 5-9.

Mayor's Philly speech revives governor talk

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's speech to the Florida delegation at the Democratic convention is reviving talk of his possible run for governor in 2018.

Buckhorn has long been considered a 2018 possibility, and has said he's looking at it. But the talk has declined because of his slow fundraising compared to Democrats Gwen Graham and Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, and Republican Adam Putnam.

Buckhorn hit Florida themes and sounded like a 2018 candidate in his DNC speech:

"We know what it's like to elect a tea party millionaire … to give back $3 billion in rail money that could have provided thousands of jobs … to have a government that doesn't know the difference between toxic green algae and guacamole … to turn back hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid money that would have served thousands of us … We're going to win in 2016, and then we're coming back in 2018, and we're taking our state back."

The speech "is reviving that talk 100 percent," Tampa Democrat Justin Day said from the convention. "People were still talking about it Thursday morning. His name had kind of stopped being mentioned, but I think after this you're going to see more Democrats wanting him to step up and do it."

Endorsement watch

To judge by influential backers and fundraising, Jackie Toledo may be the underdog to Rebecca Smith in the District 60 House race, replacing Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, but Toledo nabbed the potential endorsement of the National Rifle Association.

The Florida Sentinel Bulletin, a bi-weekly serving Tampa's black community, has endorsed Sean Shaw in the race for heavily black state House District 61, over Dianne Hart and Walter Lee Smith. The paper also backed Stanley Gray in the District 7 School Board race. The Sentinel Bulletin is influential in the black community, political consultant Todd Pressman said.

Viera got the endorsement of the city firefighters' union.

"It's important because they're viewed as a truly sacrificing group, and they put boots on the ground," said consultant Barry Edwards.

William March can be reached at

>>fast facts

Upcoming political forums

. Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce: 4:30 - 7 p.m., Monday, Tampa Hilton Downtown, 211 N Tampa St.

Tickets: $50

Candidates: State and federal representatives, County School Board, County Commission, County Court, City Council.

. Candidate meet-and-greet and forum NAACP: 5-9 p.m., Thursday, Middleton Senior High School, 4801 N 22nd St., Tampa.

Candidates: Hillsborough County School Board Districts 5 and 7, state House Representative District 61, state Senate District 19, state attorney, County Commission District 6.

. Bell Shoals Baptist Church: 5:30 p.m., Aug. 5, Bell Shoals Baptist Church, 2102 Bell Shoals Road, Brandon.

. Brandon Chamber of Commerce: 5-7:30 p.m., Aug. 10, TPepin's Hospitality Centre, 4121 N 50th St. Tampa.

Tickets: $15

Candidates: Hillsborough County Commission, School Board, Circuit Court, state Senate and House.

Special election for Tampa City Council heating up 07/28/16 [Last modified: Friday, July 29, 2016 5:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Once 'angry' about Obamacare, Republican David Jolly came to see it as 'safety net'


    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  2. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store


    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

  3. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108