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Joe Henderson: Dick Greco Jr. late entry could throw curve in Tampa mayoral race

His father, the elder Dick Greco, served four terms as mayor.

The timing of Dick Greco, Jr.’s entry into the race to be Tampa’s next Mayor is curious. I mean, the election is March 5, and Greco didn’t file his paperwork for candidacy until last Friday.

If this was anyone whose last name isn’t Greco, I’d say it is a waste of time.

I’m not ruling that out, by the way. But this has the potential to scramble projections we might have about this race.

His father, the elder Dick Greco, served four terms as mayor spread out over parts of four decades. But it has been 16 years since he sat in the city’s top chair, and a lot of things about Tampa have changed.

The city has grown substantially. Downtown has had a complete makeover and millennials weren’t around when he was Mayor.

Still, the son, who refers to himself on his voicemail message as Dickie Greco, will have some name recognition. Longtime residents will remember his father. Dickie also served as a Hillsborough Circuit Judge before retiring. That could help.

I’m just not sure how much.

In 2011, when Daddy Greco tried to regain his seat for the fifth time, he missed the runoff by finishing third in a five-candidate field. Bob Buckhorn won the runoff.

While his entry into this race seems a little late in the game, Greco has been pondering this for a while. As far back as 2017, he talked about running this time.

What took him so long to go for it now?

For the moment we can only guess. He hasn’t been talking to reporters since his announcement, although I made a stab at it Monday.

Greco may have to shout to be heard over a field of eight other candidates. Some of those folks have name recognition, too.

Jane Castor was Tampa’s Police Chief for five years. David A. Straz, Jr. is a billionaire philanthropist whose name is on Tampa’s top-notch performing arts hall.

Harry Cohen and Mike Suarez are on Tampa’s City Council. Ed Turanchik is well known from his days on the Hillsborough County Commission and other endeavors.

Several of those names were mentioned in a 2017 story about Dickie’s interest in running. In that, he acknowledged, “There are some really great individuals who are thinking about doing it. I think Tampa would do well with any of the names that I’ve heard.”

The candidates in this race have been out in the field for many months, meeting with civic groups and raising cash. They have held three debates.

It’s also true, though, that all that groundwork can go to waste in a hurry. Just ask Republican Adam Putnam, seen by many as Florida’s next Governor. Putnam had done the work, shook the hands, and raised cash. It all went boom after President Donald Trump endorsed Ron DeSantis.

It’s also true that the general public’s attention has been elsewhere. They had midterms to deal with, followed by the holidays. The Tampa Mayor’s race only now is showing up on radars.

These races can be hard to predict.

In 2011, the last time there was a competitive race to be Mayor, only 41,784 people voted in the general election. A few votes here or there can make a major difference for a latecomer like Greco.

Still, why he waited so long to declare?

That should be the first question he is asked.

I imagine we’ll our answer soon enough.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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