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Passing the Buck — Castor by a landslide; Turanchik takes a lashing; Clendenin’s in trouble

Here’s what happened Tuesday in Tampa municipal races.

Tuesday marked exactly one month until Tampa’s municipal election and the day came with a flurry of news.

The most significant was a poll putting Jane Castor just 5 points away from winning the mayoral race without advancing to a runoff. While that’s unlikely, Castor’s substantial lead is creating a feeding frenzy among the six other candidates vying for the No. 2 spot in the runoff.

As the campaign enters its final month, here’s what happened Tuesday.

Castor crushing the competition” via Florida Politics — A St. Pete Polls survey puts the former Tampa Police Chief at 45 percent — more than 30 points ahead of her closest competition. That margin has Castor within striking distance of outright winning the election March 5. She’d need 50 percent of the vote, plus one vote, to do that. Otherwise, she’d head to a runoff April 23. David Straz is sitting in the wild card spot with 13 percent support among those polled. None of the other candidates reached double digits. The poll, conducted Monday night, shows 11 percent of voters still undecided.

Castor knows she’s winning (probably)” via Florida Politics — Most of the hour and a half long TBBJ forum was congenial. But during the heated moments – those when candidates were battering Turanchik, mostly – Castor was the only one to never blink. Meanwhile, every other candidate was doing his best to outshine the rest of the men in the race. Why? Because Castor is probably pretty confidently sitting on the No. 1 throne in this race while the rest of the pack is duking it out for the wild card. They don’t need to beat her, not yet anyway, they just have to beat everyone else.

Straz internal poll suggests a tighter race” — An internal poll commissioned through the Kitchens Group shows Castor with a much more narrow lead over Straz, putting Castor on top 36 percent and Straz trailing with 15 percent. The internal poll, which the Straz campaign says it paid $9,000 for, surveyed more than 500 likely Tampa voters, but no methodology was included in the data it released. The campaign also did not provide questions that were asked in the survey. A poll summary further claims that when voters were exposed to “detailed information and Castor and Straz” and then asked to choose between them, Castor’s lead disappeared and Straz gained the advantage 47 percent to 29 percent. The campaign did not say what “detailed information” it offered in the poll.

Coming attraction:

Ed Turanchik takes a beating” via Florida Politics — Turanchik has been running for mayor, whether figuratively or literally, for about 30 years. His three decades involved in politics shows in the former County Commissioner’s ongoing bravado at campaign forums in which he brags about his accomplishments and knowledge and puts down those against whom he’s running. His number came due Tuesday at a Tampa Bay Business Journal forum in which several candidates called him out. 

“When asked how to keep housing in downtown affordable each candidate shared ideas. Topher Morrison and Straz each said affordable housing should be a priority throughout the city, not just in downtown. Castor and Mike Suarez each shared points about utilizing city-owned land to lower development costs. Harry Cohen brought up creative solutions like tiny houses and container homes.

Turanchik lambasted every single one of them.

“When I listen to everyone up here it makes me cringe,” Turanchik said.

He then went on to explain how he knew better. Behind him, candidates kept a straight face, but they didn’t stay silent.

“It’s not that there’s not any good ideas Ed,” Morrison said – hissed, almost. “It’s just it doesn’t sound good unless it comes out of your mouth.”

The crowd erupted.

“You’re applauding because you know it’s true,” Morrison added, addressing the crowd.

Ella Coffee heads to St. Pete for fundraising” via Florida Politics — Tampa City Council District 5 candidate Coffee is hosting a fundraising reception outside the city next Tuesday at Iberian Rooster in downtown St. Pete from 5:30-7 p.m.

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg City Council members Gina Driscoll and Darden Rice and a handful of politically engaged St. Pete voters are hosting the event.

Coffee is no stranger to St. Pete politics. She most recently ran Lindsay Cross’s campaign against State Senator Jeff Brandes. The duo lost to Brandes and his power house campaign machine, but managed to make a decent showing despite jumping into the race late. In that roll, Coffee also partnered close with Jennifer Webb’s successful campaign for Florida House District 69 succeeding Republican Kathleen Peters in that seat.

Poll: Joe Citro, John Dingfelder take the lead in Tampa City Council races” via Florida Politics — The St. Pete Polls mayoral survey also asked voters about Tampa City Council districts one and three. Both are citywide races.

The poll put Citro out in front in District 1 with 21 percent support followed by Alan Clendenin. If those numbers hold, the two will head to a runoff April 23. The vote there would depend on who manages to capture votes from losing candidates’ supporters.

Former Tampa City Council member Dingfelder has a huge edge in the District 3 race with 33 percent support. Nicholas Glover would wind up in a runoff with Dingfelder if poll results hold. He’s showing 16 percent support — five points ahead of Stephen Lytle and seven points ahead of Vibha Shevade.

Thirty-one percent of respondents were undecided in the District 3 race.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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