Rick Baker goes nuclear against Rick Kriseman, plays Kevin King card - Florida Politics

Rick Baker goes nuclear against Rick Kriseman, plays Kevin King card

Rick Baker is going there.

With less than two weeks before Election Day in St. Petersburg’s mayoral race, the former mayor — behind in the public polls for the first time in the campaign — is airing a decidedly negative TV ad questioning the judgment of incumbent Rick Kriseman over his chief aide’s criminal past.

“Sunshine” is a 30-second spot that focuses on the 2001 arrest of Kevin King, a then-22-year-old substitute teacher in Pinellas County School District, for propositioning a teenage girl for sex.

Police charged King with three felonies: one count of computer solicitation to commit a lewd and lascivious act, and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. After posting $5,500 bail, he was released from the Pinellas County Jail.

A day later, the district fired King.

King has had a longtime professional relationship with Kriseman during his entire tenure on City Council (2000-2006) and in the state Legislature (2006-2012).

King’s criminal history has been written about in the past, but it never became an issue when Kriseman faced incumbent Bill Foster for the St. Pete mayoral race in 2013. The Tampa Bay Times’ Mark Puente reported the incident in December 2013 after Kriseman hired King as chief of staff.

At the time, King told Puente the case was resolved “favorably.”

“I don’t think this should be any concern,” he said. “I’ve worked for taxpayers for many years.”

The Baker campaign says it should concern voters — about Kriseman’s judgment.

“This race has always been about competency and judgment,” said Brigitta Shouppe, a spokesperson for Seamless Florida, Baker’s political committee. “Kriseman knowingly hired a former substitute teacher to oversee his education policy who was arrested, charged and immediately fired by the Pinellas school district after police said he asked a 14-year-old girl to perform a sex act — how could anyone be OK with that?”

Kriseman campaign manager Jacob Smith responded angrily: “Sadly, Rick Baker has sunk to a new low in a desperate attempt to save his failing campaign.”

“On the first day of his campaign, Baker harshly called Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin’s Black History Month article ‘stupid,'” Smith wrote in an email. “Recently, he was forced to pull another false commercial for lying. Now, he’s dug up a 17-year old story about a case that didn’t go anywhere and had zero to do with Rick Kriseman.

“We’re confident the people of St. Pete will reject Rick Baker’s Donald Trump-style lies, attacks, and policies. Our campaign will continue talking about how we move St. Pete forward.”

Smith’s reference to “false commercial” was an ad sent to three radio stations last week, with narrator Sevell Brown falsely saying that Kriseman failed to appear at an NAACP event. Baker’s campaign later switched out the ad, denying the charge that radio stations pulled it themselves.

The ad comes just 14 days before the Nov. 7 general election.

Watch the ad below:

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

4 Comments

  1. Slick Rick Baker should be the last to question someone’s judgment. Take a quick look at the following:
    1. It is poor judgment to lie so much, especially when it is so often blatant and disrespectful.
    2. He chose to work for his current employer and maintain an interest in being mayor. Remember, he said he wouldn’t even recuse himself.
    3. He chose Goliath Davis as a top administrator. Enough said.
    4. His family members, very close family members, were CONVICTED of fraud against the government and sent to prison. His judgment has been to pretend it didn’t happen.
    5. He loves to point out that he is a conservative republican. His poor judgment centers around his denial of his admiration for Trump. Here he is presenting himself as a fraud to the voters who don’t know any better.

  2. If you want to see what a desperate political campaign looks like check out Rick Baker’s campaign. They are coming unglued over there. They have Baker trying to look and sound hip, they have Sevell Brown lying in radio spots, and they have ads that are what we tend call “nuclear” in terms of their extreme negativism.

    Baker, please calm down. Stress is a dangerous thing.

  3. Rick Kriseman said they had favorable result… I guess that was getting the records sealed? In either case Vote Responsibly, who has created positive results and who let poop run through the streets creating an environmental disaster while wasting tax payer funds on a wish list and expanding his office staff? More proof that Socialism only brings mediocrity, dependency and poverty. Remember to also vote NO on Penny for Pinellas, 1/3rd of that $2 Billion they say comes from tourist, like those who rent their homes month to month, year after year. Sales tax is regressive and attacks the poor the most.

  4. If a politician like Baker can’t stand on his platform with two legs to make anyone believe in his policies . . . then I guess we must watch him and his camp try to tear down good men. Shame on you Baker. Have you learned nothing? We are the people . . . we will not allow “false news” to sway the way we vote for our Mayor. You are not a noble man. Shame on you!!!

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