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‘Draft Rick Baker’ page pops up on Twitter urging the former Mayor to run against Charlie Crist

The tiny group thinks Baker is the GOP’s only shot to take down Crist.

Someone created a Twitter page aimed at wooing former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker to run for Congress against Pinellas County Democrat Charlie Crist in Florida Congressional District 13.

The Twitter handle @DraftRickBaker emerged Tuesday with a message.

“Pinellas needs a leader in Congress who cares about us, and that’s Rick Baker,” the page’s first post reads. “If you agree, please follow us and spread our message.”

As of 5 p.m., the page had just three followers. One is this reporter. Another is the Twitter group Keep Florida Red, which the administrator of the new Baker page claims is behind the effort. The third is Florida Efficiency Report, a conservative pro-constitution group.

The group is not affiliated with any political committees and is only on Twitter.

In a text message, Baker said he wasn’t aware of the Twitter page and that he has “no present intention or plans to run for office again.”

The Draft Rick Baker page offered the following response to Florida Politics’ inquiry about its efforts:

“This campaign was created after looking at the current field of GOP candidates running for Charlie Crist’s seat and realizing that none of them had the ability to win back this seat and serve this community well.

“The top candidate so far has only lived in Pinellas for a few years and they have little connection to the people they want to represent. Rick Baker is the best candidate to not only defeat Charlie Crist, but to really make a difference for this community.

“He cares for the people (no matter their party) and will make an effective congressman. He’ll work with both parties to get a lot done for our area and I think that’s what attracts a lot of people to him. He’s one of the good ones.

“We created this account so that the people who feel the same way can make their voice heard and encourage Rick to run for Congress. We plan on creating a Facebook and Instagram page soon to expand our reach to those in Pinellas and get to message out.”

Four Republicans are currently running in the primary for Crist’s seat. Those include Amanda Makki, a former adviser to Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski; former Republican National Convention executive Matt Becker; former attorney Sheila Griffin and perennial candidate George Buck.

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 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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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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