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Festival packs 'em in _ politicians that is; Caton plays a game of cat and Mouse

Political season and strawberry season coincided this year, and the result was a major outbreak of shortcake and schmoozing at Monday's Strawberry Festival Luncheon.

Jeb Bush and Ander Crenshaw, the two tallest men in the governor's race, stood back to back outside the Sumter Lowry National Guard Armory meeting and greeting. Crenshaw, who wants to be known as the singing governor, said he's been offering up renditions of his campaign song _ My Name is Ander _ on the campaign trail. Jeb Bush was singing the praises of his key Hillsborough supporter, real estate developer Al Hoffman. "I love this guy," Bush said. Hoffman swears that he wakes each morning and asks, "What can I do today for Jeb Bush?" Hoffman's good deed for Monday was a Bush fund-raiser at his house.

Mingling under the big tent nearby was almost every member of the Hillsborough County Commission, the sheriff, a dozen judges, the state attorney, the public defender, everybody who's running for anything, and some who used to _ like former County Commissioners Reubin Padgett and Big Jim Selvey and former state legislator Mary Figg. When Figg met Selvey, she quipped: "Didn't you used to be somebody?"

The most interesting folks were occupying the smoking section _ Marge Schott, owner of the Cincinnati Reds, was busy working on a Winston; and Gordon Solie, professional wrestling's most famous voice, was accepting a light from Edna Miller, the Alcaldessa of Ybor City.

For first-time candidates, like Paddy Moses and Dottie Berger, the luncheon was another lesson in local politics. "I guess I better get used to these kind of things," said Moses, who is running for County Commission. As for Berger, another commission hopeful, this was at least an event where she didn't have to wash her hands afterwards. Berger won Sunday's Strawberry Festival milking contest and is in training for the upcoming meadow muffin-tossing contest.

That should be good training for the commission.

Caton wishes upon a star: With David Caton's anti-gay rights battle temporarily dashed by the Florida Supreme Court, some are wondering what will happen to his fight with Disney World. Caton wanted Disney to sign on to his statewide, anti-gay rights campaign but couldn't get an audience with Disney executives in Orlando. So Caton fired off a missile to his mailing list, saying: "Disney's lack of a response has been interpreted to confirm . . . that executives of Disney World . . . oppose the proposal." The American Family Association is urging members to send a pre-printed postcard to Disney president Michael Eisner warning the Master of All that is Mousy that what he does next "May determine my patronage of Disney parks and products in the future."

Rumors, hunches, half-truths, etc: Is there a casino in the Port of Tampa's future? Some are talking about such a possibility and, at the next authority meeting, there will be a report on the impact of casinos on other ports around the country. Joe Garcia, chairman of the authority, said the port is a long way from endorsing any kind of casino idea . . . Who is in trouble this political season? Ron Glickman is one name that comes up. He won a narrow victory two years ago over Republican Faye Culp, who is running again. His district now includes more Republicans and the party is targeting Glickman's seat as winnable.

Eating the news: What's on the menu at the Exodus Newsroom, the new cafe on Gandy Boulevard? How about the St. Petersburg Times, a liberal helping of "shrimp, scallops, clams and fish in a white cream sauce." Or the Tampa Tribune, a "grilled, semi-boneless quail in lemongrass sauce." Shouldn't that be spelled "Quayle?"