1. Opinion

Daniel Ruth: For dark horse bid to succeed, hypnotist Topher Morrison may need hypnotism

At the Tampa Theatre in March, Topher Morrison kicked off his camapaign for mayor with his dog Macie at his side. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
At the Tampa Theatre in March, Topher Morrison kicked off his camapaign for mayor with his dog Macie at his side. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Published May 29, 2018

This could get ... interesting.

In the middle of a community forum of allllllll the many and sundry candidates vying to become the next mayor of Tampa, in a moment of weakness Ed Turanchik inadvertently looks into the cunning eyes of Topher Morrison. And before you can say "Bully!" the former Commissioner Choo-Choo comes to believe he is Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill.

Well, one can always hope, can't one?

The mayoral field is ripe with ambition and varying degrees of experience. There's Turanchik, a former Hillsborough County Commissioner; former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor; current Tampa City Council members Mike Suarez and Harry Cohen; and, of course, the Daddy Warbucks of South Tampa, David Straz.

RELATED COVERAGE Topher Morrison was big-time hypnotist. Now, he's running for mayor

Then there is business consultant Topher Morrison, the Amazing Kreskin of Kennedy Boulevard, who once made a living as a professional hypnotist.

Although he hasn't used his powers to entrance folks in a while, Morrison told the Tampa Bay Times' Charlie Frago he once spent the better part of his time traveling around the world using the arcane skill of hypnosis in his career as a corporate trainer.

There probably has never been a mayor of Tampa who didn't wish for the wherewithal to dangle a pocket watch before City Council to bend them to his or her will.

Life would be so much easier.

Morrison told Frago he came by his hypnotic skills after training with the noted motivational guru Tony Robbins and absorbing the self-help gospels of Zig Ziglar.

That might come in handy during this mayoral campaign. Or perhaps put another way, Morrison becoming mayor of Tampa will require all the positive thinking skills he can muster.

Still, Morrison could probably use a little less of his hypnotic talents and a somewhat greater reliance on clairvoyance as he hits the hustings.

Quite simply, Morrison brings all the name recognition of whoever finished last in the Kentucky Derby to his campaign for mayor. Turanchik, Castor and Straz are all well-known throughout Tampa. And Suarez and Cohen, with their years on City Council, have proven their own electability.

But who knows, perhaps if Morrison can get Castor to start howling at the moon and the recent Democratic Party convert Straz to begin waxing eloquent as to how he thinks Donald Trump is the greatest president ever ,and Suarez to start speaking in tongues, and Cohen to boast how he hates puppies, maybe, just maybe, the Svengali of the Big Guava might have a chance of pulling off a victory.

Morrison would also do well to keep in mind there hasn't been a dark horse this dark, with all the name recognition of Saddam Hussein's food-taster, pull off a mayoral win since, well, about never.

Certainly all of Tampa's mayors going back at least the past 70 years have had highly visible prior civic profiles either in elective office or the business community (or both) before seeking the city's top job.

No doubt Topher Morrison is an earnest, well-intentioned candidate who wants to contribute to his adopted hometown. That's very nice.

But the road to the mayor's office is paved with familiarity and, in these days, money, lots and lots of money.

Morrison told Frago he had discovered when he simply listens to the concerns of people how grateful they are. But this isn't exactly as if the candidate has cornered the market on ears. All candidates — at least the good ones — cultivate the art of empathy.

Rather, you could argue Topher Morrison in his brief time in the political arena has learned how intoxicating the stump can be — the applause, the adoring supporters, the attention paid.

It's entirely possible Morrison has been HYP-NO-TIZED by the hustings.