In the immediate aftermath of her stunning loss to Guido Maniscalco in the Tampa District 6 City Council runoff on Tuesday, Jackie Toledo said that the media coverage of her campaign was unfair and had “made a big difference” in the final results.
That coverage included the unforced errors on her part that brought her some of that negative coverage. Those mistakes included superimposing her photo over the city seal in her official campaign portrait, to filming a television commercial on a construction site off of I-275 without receiving Florida Department of Transportation permission.
Then there were the mysterious third-party mailers that ended up eliciting sympathy for Maniscalco.
On Thursday, The Tampa Tribune editorial page wrote that Tuesday’s vote “indicates candidates in the future would be wise to do their utmost to control the messaging done on their behalf.” The paper’s editorial board had earlier endorsed her in the District 6 contest.
Local politician and observer Rose Ferlita agrees that a candidate has to take control of her own message.
In a brief interview Tuesday night, Ferlita said she proudly stood behind her endorsement of Toledo, which didn’t come until late in the race.
“She’ll bring more abilities, more talent, more expertise, more things the city needs than Guido Maniscalco,” she said as the crowd began thinning out of Fodder & Shine, the Seminole Heights restaurant that hosted Toledo’s election night party. “But obviously, in a low-turnout election, majority rules, and that’s what happened.”
After Ferlita endorsed Toledo, this reporter noted that it seemed in contradiction to the story reported by The Tampa Tribune the previous week. That’s where Ferlita made clear that Toledo’s use of campaign consultant Anthony Pedicini was an obvious turnoff for her. Pedicini worked for Ferlita during her 2011 mayoral contest in Tampa.
Ferlita, though, shot back to this reporter that the press got it wrong.
“When I was quoted, again I was quoted partially, by several reporters, and I think even you don’t remember, you all only quoted part of it,” she said. ” What I said was that when she called me, she didn’t ask for my endorsement. She just called me. I didn’t respond. I had a little sour taste in my mouth because I was sorry that she made some of the same mistakes that I did. Some of the stuff that started out in her campaign that was negative, I told her to stop immediately, but it continued to run, so I am the quarterback when I am the candidate. Granted.”
Fertile went on to say that Maniscalco called her as well, and she didn’t respond back to him, either. She said she then did her research on the two candidates, before coming out with a strong endorsement of Toledo, whom she says has “a lot to offer.”
Ferlita has been extremely low-key in the past four years since her loss to Bob Buckhorn in the 2011 mayoral election. That election mirrored Toledo’s in that she, too, took in more votes than her second place finisher in 2011 in the primary election.
Buckhorn was able to consolidate the endorsements of the other candidates in that race such as Ed Turanchik and Thomas Scott, and perhaps most crucially, outgoing Mayor Pam Iorio. Iorio had said that she would remain neutral in the contest, but said she was compelled to endorse Buckhorn because of the negativity in terms of messaging coming from the Ferlita campaign.
That negative messaging is thought to be part of the mix that led to a falling out between Ferlita and Pedicini at the conclusion of that 2011 race.
Toledo said Tuesday night that she would strongly consider running again for office, and why shouldn’t she? Despite all of the criticism she has received, she came up just 151 votes of being the only new city council member who will be sworn into office next week.
“I hope she looks at it again, and makes some smarter choices, and I’m sure she will,” Ferlita said. “Life shows us all to learn and live with things that maybe weren’t the best decisions, but as we go forward maybe there’ll be other decisions around the corner.”