Ken Welch, not yet a candidate for St. Pete mayor, picks up two big endorsements

Rep. Charlie Crist and City Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman announce support.
Former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch.
Former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch. [ DOUGLAS CLIFFORD | Times (2018) ]
Published Dec. 15, 2020|Updated Dec. 15, 2020

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, and City Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman are backing Ken Welch in the 2021 St. Petersburg mayor’s race.

Welch, who says he intends to file just after the holidays, said Tuesday he’s honored to have the support of both. He said he’s a longtime friend of Crist, who backed him in his 2012 and 2016 races for Pinellas Commission.

The former commissioner said he has just begun to line up backers.

Related: St. Pete mayor’s race still has candidates weighing their options

City Council member Darden Rice has said she also expects to file for mayor, and the open-seat race is expected to attract a number of candidates.

Former state Rep. Wengay Newton has said he’s considering running, and businessman and civic activist Deveron Gibbons has said he is, too.

Announcements and jockeying for support are expected to begin in earnest in January.

“It really comes down to friendship,” said Crist, when asked why he chose Welch over the expected crowd. “He’s a man of God and has a good heart and will lead well. I think he would do a superb job of mayor of St. Petersburg.”

Bowman said Welch “did a great job as county commissioner and would do a great job as mayor of St. Petersburg.”