'Bidenator' on the line: Joe Biden cuts robocall for Rick Kriseman - Florida Politics

‘Bidenator’ on the line: Joe Biden cuts robocall for Rick Kriseman

The news hasn’t been great lately for Rick Kriseman, but at least Joe Biden has his back.

The former vice president has recorded a robocall in support of the Democratic incumbent and come out with a formal endorsement in the St. Petersburg mayoral contest, twelve days before voters go to the polls (though plenty already are voting through mail-in ballots, with early voting scheduled to begin Saturday).

“I have a straight forward message to the St. Pete voters. If you voted for Barack (Obama) and me when we were on the ballot, then we need you to get out there and vote for Rick Kriseman,” Biden said Thursday. “Rick has a great track record on important issues to St. Petersburg: like reducing poverty, reducing crime, preparing for climate change, and creating jobs where you can support a middle class family. So please, get out there and re-elect Rick Kriseman.”

The endorsement again shows how much the Florida Democratic Party has invested in Kriseman winning reelection. Polls have shown the race between him and former Mayor Rick Baker to be extremely close, and with a dearth of elected Democrats in the Legislature, maintaining mayoral offices is critical for the FDP.

“No one has fought harder for working class families than Vice President Joe Biden and I’m honored to have his endorsement,” Kriseman said Thursday. “St. Petersburg has come so far these past four years, and I’m committed to continuing that progress. Every day until the polls close, we’re going to talk to voters about what’s at stake in this election. Crime and poverty are on the decline, job growth is on the rise, and our city is finally preparing for a changing climate. We can’t afford to go backward.”

The Kriseman camp said the robocall will begin transmitting late Thursday afternoon.

Before the August 29 primary election, former President Obama issued his own endorsement of Kriseman, a Democrat in what is officially billed as a nonpartisan race.

The endorsement comes at a crucial time in the race, with Kriseman needing to change the narrative building over the past 72 hours that he needs to act in the case of his besieged chief of staff, Kevin King.

The 38-year-old King, who is a controversial figure in the media for his sometimes heavy-handed tactics in defending his boss, has now become the storyline after the Baker campaign produced a television ad mentioning King’s 2001 arrest for propositioning a teenage girl for sex.

The Tampa Bay Times’ editorial page is now calling for Kriseman to unseal the court records against King in the case, so that voters “fully evaluate the situation and reach their own conclusions.”

The Times recommended Baker over Kriseman before the Aug. 29 primary election, and has done so again now.

The Times also published a damaging story Thursday regarding the Kriseman administration’s lack of transparency regarding a sewage spill that occurred thanks to Hurricane Irma last month.

Kriseman will get the backing of more star power on Friday when former U.S. Housing & Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro makes a campaign appearance on his behalf in St. Pete.

Here is the full transcript of the Biden robocall:

“This is Vice President Joe Biden. I have a straight forward message to the St. Pete voters.

If you voted for Barack and me when we were on the ballot, then we need you to get out there and vote for Rick Kriseman.

We need you to return your absentee ballot or vote on election day November the 7.

Rick has a great track record on important issues to St. Petersburg: like reducing poverty, reducing crime, preparing for climate change, and creating jobs where you can support a middle class family.

So please, get out there and re-elect Rick Kriseman. Thank you and don’t forget—Election Day is on November the 7.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was 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 and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa for 15 years. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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