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Tampa Bay

Tampa Progressives back Harry Cohen

The Caucus looks for candidates who support a living wage and quality public education.

Harry Cohen nabbed another big endorsement in his race for Tampa Mayor.

The Democratic Progressive Caucus of Tampa Bay recommended him Wednesday along with several other candidates in City Council races.

The group had a total of 18 candidates apply for an endorsement. Half received them.

In addition to Cohen, the group is also backing Walter Smith for City Council District 1, John Godwin for District 2, John Dingfelder or Nicholas Glover for District 3, Bill Carlson for District 4, Orlando Gudes or Ralph Smith for District 5 and incumbent Luis Viera for District 7.

They did not offer an endorsement in the District 6 race between incumbent Guido Maniscalco and his challenger Wendy Pepe.

For consideration, candidates had to complete an application indicating their desire to be associated with the progressive movement.

Caucus leadership then reviewed all 18 applications — there are a total of 24 City Council candidates and another seven mayoral candidates, including Cohen. The caucus did not say which candidates chose not to apply for the endorsement.

The group claims to have spent more than eight hours meeting to discuss candidates’ profiles and credentials and even more time to prepare questionnaires. Choices were then vetted by the state caucus.

The Caucus looks for candidates who support a living wage, quality public education, justice and equality for all, the right to basic health care, a clean and safe environment and a peaceful and secure world.

Reviewers considered several factors including candidates’ established relationships with the progressive community, candidate viability and political engagement in their race, political track record and overall campaign platform.

Another consideration was funding, noting that “while we understand that progressive candidates may be unable to raise as much money as more centrist candidates, it’s important they raise enough to be recognized as serious candidates.”

That proposal also included how well candidates were able to earn grassroots support and establish a viable field organization.

As a factor, funding could not have been too stringent. Smith is running for the citywide District 1 seat with just $7,000 raised compared to his opponents — all raising substantially more.

For example, Alan Clendenin raised more than $40,000 so far; Craig Newman raised $32,000. It’s possible neither candidate sought the Caucus endorsement.

Districts 2 and 3 are also both citywide. Godwin’s endorsement comes over incumbent Charlie Miranda. Stephen Lytle and Vibha Shevade are the two candidates in District 3 who did not receive endorsements.

Carlson is the only Democrat in the South Tampa District 4 race against Republicans Sal Guagliardo and Lee Lowry.

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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