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Mitch Perry Report for 4.26.16 – Collusion politics

Although registration for Republicans have surged in a number of states this primary season, the larger trend is that people are becoming more disaffected by our two major political parties, and signing up as independents.

And with Democratic superdelegates on one side, and top ranking GOP officials seemingly doing whatever they can to try to legitimately deny Donald Trump the presidential nomination on the other, their brands are being further tarnished.

Yesterday, Dwight Dudley announced the won’t run for re-election to his HD 68 seat in Pinellas County this fall, but is likely now to run for a judgeship in Pinellas County. A few hours later and voila,  Ben Diamond, a local attorney, announces that he would run as the Democrat in the race. And just to erase any doubt that was a coincidence, his press release was replete with enthusiastic quotes from much of the Democratic Party establishment in Tallahassee and Pinellas County.

Perhaps “collusion,” as Donald Trump has been tossing the word around is a bit extreme, but it’s obvious that the Democrats want to control who runs for that seat.

That’s not a knock on Diamond, who may very well be the best candidate to succeed Dudley. It’s certainly a statement that if any other Democrat dares to enter the contest, however, they won’t be supported by the Democratic hierarchy.

It all reeks of  December of 2009, when Tampa House Democrat Mike Scionti announced that he was stepping down to serve in the Obama administration. A couple of hours later, a press release was issued announcing that Janet Cruz was running for his seat. Included in that same press release were several high-ranking Democrats in Hillsborough – heck, most of them, all were endorsing Cruz.

It was all nicely arranged out of the public eye, as the Dems had already figured out who would run to succeed Scionti.

Except Pat Kemp ruined the coronation by announcing that she would enter the contest. It became a very nasty race if you recall, with some racial identity politics coming into play before Cruz ultimately won a bitterly fought special election the following month.

My point? The rooms may not be smoke filled, but the parties (the Democratic Party in both cases here locally) did what they wanted to, and the heck with any open competition.  Nothing new there. Except more and more people are catching on that the parties work on behalf of themselves, and not necessarily for the voter.

In other news..

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The long awaited Justice Department review of the Tampa Police Department’s polices on bike citations is finally here -or will be in a few hours.

As David Jolly touts his Stop Act on broadcast and cable television, the Pinellas County Congressman says in his ideal world, the U.S. would emulate the Brits and eliminate political television advertising.

A poll published late last week shows Donald Trump is doing terrible with “The Hispanics,” as he likes to say.

Jack Latvala is calling on Rick Kriseman to expand his group looking to the keep the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Pete to expand that to all of Pinellas County.

And Charlie Crist picked up another union endorsement yesterday.

Written By

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 since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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