A rundown of the real winners and losers from Tampa Bay’s primary elections

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Tuesday’s slate of primary elections certainly provided a list of winners and losers, and I’m not just talking about the candidates. Here is my list of the real winners and losers coming out of the primaries.


David Jolly — The incumbent congressman beat expectations in the GOP primary for CD 13. Now on to see if he tries to pace Democratic opponent Charlie Crist in a tanning war.

Jeff Brandes — The St. Petersburg state Senator’s solar power tax-break amendment far surpassed the 60 percent needed to become part of the state constitution. Does this mean campaign manager Chris Spencer gets to shave now?

Jackie Toledo‘s team — We’re not exactly sure who gets the credit for helping Toledo upset Rebecca Smith. We see Shawn Foster‘s company in the campaign finance reports, as well as Kelso Tanner‘s and Jamestown Associates. We know Ryan Wiggins handled comms. We even hear Anthony Pedicini was indirectly involved. Of course, none of that matters because Toledo’s best weapon was her grassroots support.

Jamie Grant — The Republican state Representative has already won re-election without opposition, so why is on this list? Because the smart guys in Tallahassee say his bid to be House Speaker in 2023 is in better shape today than it was Monday.

Dana Young — You’re right, the Tampa Republican did not have a primary, but her hand improved nonetheless. That’s because Linda Stewart — and not Mike Clelland — won in the SD 13 Democratic primary. Stewart is nowhere near the fundraiser Clelland would have been, meaning Florida Senate Democrats will have to shift some money — it’s unclear how much — from Bob Buesing in SD 18 to Stewart. And that means there will be fewer dollars for the Democrats to go after Young.

Kathleen Peters — She wasn’t on the ballot, either, but, like Young, the Pinellas state Representative indirectly benefitted from the outcomes of other races throughout the state. It would take up too much space here to connect all the dots, but the bottom line is fewer resources will flow to Democrat Jennifer Webb.

Pinellas County — For so many years, it was represented by half-Senators — lawmakers who straddled parts of Pinellas and other counties. And while that still may be true on paper, the county will soon send to Tallahassee three Pinellas-first state senators in Brandes, Jack Latvala and Darryl Rouson.

Rick Kriseman — The St. Petersburg made endorsements in two competitive Democratic primaries, SD 19 and HD 68, and came away two-for-two.

Tom Alte and Meagan Salisbury — Their Blue Ticket Consulting picked up wins in HD 68 (Ben Diamond) and HD 61 (Sean Shaw). Yes, the team lost in SD 19 with Augie Ribeiro, but we’re sure the consultants were well paid there.

Nick Hansen — Having already maneuvered Jeff Brandes to re-election without opposition, Hansen guided political newcomer Mike Twitty to a win in the Pinellas property appraiser race.

Anthony Pedicini and Tom Piccolo — The Tampa-based political consultants did not work many local races, but they were hyperactive in legislative races throughout the state, picking up several wins in contested primaries.

Barry Edwards — Assuming Darryl Rouson hangs on to his slim lead, it’s a huge personal win for Rouson’s longtime consigliere.

Ed Turanchik — Be it sheer luck or the fact that there were several spoilers also running for the Hillsborough County Commission, Pat Kemp emerged victorious. Turanchik was Kemp’s biggest cheerleader.

Ian Whitney — Four years removed from a failed bid for the state House, Whitney did more than manage Pat Frank‘s re-election campaign — he became her rock after Frank’s daughter Stacy passed.

St. Pete Polls — POLITICO Florida reporter/provocateur Marc Caputo dinged the hometown polling shop for ‘rigging’ its polls (a defamatory accusation for which I hope Matt Florell seeks legal redress), yet its numbers in key battleground races, including SD 19, were better than several other more expensive polling operations.

Tampa Bay Times’ reporters Michael LaForgiaCara Fitzpatrick and Lisa Gartner — Their “Failure Factories” investigation, which “expos(ed) a local school board’s culpability in turning some county schools into failure factories, with tragic consequences for the community” (those are the words of the Pulitzer Prize selection committee), certainly led to the ousting of one Pinellas School Board member and forced two more into runoffs.

Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association — The teachers’ union also played a role in the defeat of incumbent Ken Peluso. President Mike Gandolfo urged his members to vote against Peluso and for one of their own, Eileen Long.

Alan Suskey — The Peninsula’s man in Tallahassee now has three state Senators in the Capitol he can call on during Session. No wonder PSTA and Great Explorations Children Museum recently retained his services.

Mixed bag

Nick DiCeglie — While the Pinellas GOP is as strong as ever (probably stronger under DiCeglie’s leadership than it was under Michael Guju), DiCeglie, his Vice Chair Todd Jennings, and the rest of the establishment Republicans will still have to deal with state Committeeman Dan Tucker and precinct captain David McKalip, both of whom won re-election.

Jack Latvala — The Pinellas state Senator got frisky by playing in House District 54, where he hoped to knock out pledge-taker-backer Thad Altman. He also backed the wrong horse in Wenda Lewis in HD 21. In Pinellas County, many of the candidates who shopped with him — Bill Dudley, Ken Peluso — also lost. But one of Latvala’s best buds, Jeff Clemens, is coming back to the Senate. At this point, does it matter what elections Latvala wins or loses? He’s the frickin’ chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee!

Patrick Manteiga — As much as we enjoy the publisher of La Facet’s “As we heard it column,” most of his predictions in the close races were off. Let’s hope he’s not wrong about his Hillary Clinton pick.

Mike Griffin — Mr. Tampa passed on running for House District 60 because it was just not the right time for him. That was too bad. But with Jackie Toledo winning the GOP primary there, the chances of Democrat David Singer winning improve, which means Griffin might get a second chance at the apple in 2018.

Kevin Thurman — His guy Brian Willis came up short on Tuesday, but we’ll keep him out of the losers category because he’s still riding the TBX momentum.


Bob Buckhorn — Hizzoner went 2-for-5 with his endorsements as Pat Frank and Ben Diamond won and Ed NarainAlan Clendenin, and Tom Scott each lost.

Bob Buckhorn Part 2 — Think back to last January, after MaryEllen Elia was fired and the mayor wrote on his Facebook page: ” ‘Nuff said. School Board elections in 2 years. Just saying.” Well, that was a hollow threat as the so-called “Mean Girls” who sacked Elia were re-elected.

Dwight Dudley — It was a bad night for the entire Dudley clan, what with Bill Dudley losing his bid for the School Board. But cousin Dwight was the bigger loser, having given up a safe seat in the Florida House for an uphill climb for a spot on the county court.

Kevin BecknerGil Sainz and Nick Janovsky — There may be no big loser coming out the primaries than Team Beckner, which ran a scorched-earth campaign against Pat Frank. Beckner will now go from being a possible statewide candidate to out of politics. For their part, Sainz (Beckner’s husband) and Janovsky (Beckner’s consultant) behaved as nastily as poorly-fed Doberman pinschers.

Jim Norman — His decision to return to politics was a very, very bad idea. That’s what the voters said at least. Time for you to just go away, Jim.

The Tampa Chamber of Commerce crowd — The business crowd invested heavily in Rebecca Smith’s HD 60 campaign because she was one of their own. Now it will have to decide whether it wants to deal with Republican Jackie Toledo or back Democrat David Singer, who is probably more its type.

Eric Lynn — In less than a year, he went from a rising star congressional candidate who was able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to a losing candidate for the state House. It’s a shame because Lynn does have the brains for public service.

Adam Smith — He is the political editor of the state’s largest newspaper. And with that platform, he did not have a single bylined story on Election Day or the day after. Were this basketball, his stat sheet would read “DNP” — Did Not Play.

Matt Blair — Despite Rebecca Smith raising more than a quarter of a million dollars and picking up the endorsement of almost every major GOP elected official, Blair’s candidate in HD 60 still lost. Ouch.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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