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Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker backs Romney

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker has been named “Senior Adviser on Urban Policy” for Mitt Romney’s campaign.

Times (2008)

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker has been named “Senior Adviser on Urban Policy” for Mitt Romney’s campaign.

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker backed Mitt Romney four years ago, but decided in 2011 to jump on board the Herman Cain campaign. That didn't work out so well. Now Baker is back with team Romney, which has named him "Senior Adviser on Urban Policy" for the national campaign.

"Mitt Romney is the strongest Republican candidate and he is the only person capable of defeating Barack Obama in 2012," Baker said Tuesday in a statement. "Mitt Romney has the experience, the vision and the commitment to conservative values that our Republican nominee will need to draw bold contrasts with the president's failed, big government agenda."

And Orlando-based conservative activist John Stemberger is now on the Rick Santorum team.

Stemberger, who originally backed Rick Perry in the Republican presidential race, attended a meeting of evangelical leaders over the weekend in Texas that resulted in a vote to back Santorum as the Romney alternative. Stemberger said he was the only Floridian at the meeting.

"Senator Santorum has been a champion for the timeless values of life, marriage, family and religious liberty. His personal life and character is a genuine reflection of the principles he stands for in every way," Stemberger said in a statement.

Williams produces documents

On the eve of a decision about Ash Williams' job status, state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, sent the State Board of Administration chief a letter asking for specific documents either withheld or redacted from his public records request about a $125 million pension fund investment.

Appearing before a Senate committee last week, Williams announced that his office recently delivered the final portion of Fasano's request. Fasano's office said Tuesday the documents came at no charge — despite a nearly $11,000 bill for the request — but much is still missing, and heavy redactions render "many of the records essentially useless."

SBA trustees will decide whether to renew Williams' contract Wednesday.

Obama headed on Disney trip

President Barack Obama will visit Disney World in Orlando on Thursday and unveil a plan to boost tourism and travel.

Obama's visit was previously announced but without detail. Obama has been traveling the country (ahem, key election states) and trying to generate support for his economic plans while criticizing a divided Congress.

USF to host Republican debate

Get ready for a GOP presidential debate in Tampa at 9 p.m. Monday. Hosted by the Tampa Bay Times, NBC News, National Journal and the Florida Council of 100, the debate at USF Tampa will feature the top candidates in Florida's Jan. 31 primary.

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams will moderate, along with a panel including Times political editor Adam C. Smith and former Miami Herald writer Beth Reinhard, now at National Journal.

No public tickets are available. Watch it live on NBC or on

Also, the USF Student Government is hosting a Debate Watch Party at USF Tampa on the western end of the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza lawn. The party opens to guests at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Carroll compares Scott to King

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll at the Florida GOP meeting Saturday:

"On Monday, we're going to be celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday and I can't think of anybody currently in my life right now that more epitomizes the values and the vision of Dr. King than Gov. Rick Scott. When the governor selected me to be his running mate, he did not look at the color of my skin. He looked at the content of my character and my integrity and work ethic, and what I brought to the table. This is the dream of Dr. King that was realized for me."

Times staff writer Katie Sanders contributed to the Buzz.

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker backs Romney 01/17/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 7:03pm]
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