Those who tuned into the Tampa Bay Lightning game Saturday night might have caught a glimpse of home, as St. Pete restaurateur Pete Boland scooped up ad time during the game to make a case for leading the city over the next four years.
As for an ultimately upsetting Game 4, the Lightning went on to lose 3-2 after a dramatic save by a New York Islander defenseman in the closing seconds.
Despite the loss, the message in Boland’s first TV spot in the St. Petersburg mayoral race offered hope off the ice: “There’s no problem we can’t face if we tackle it with a St. Pete-first mentality of working together for real progress.”
His overarching message was that he is not a career politician.
“Career politicians and partisan politics don’t sound like progress to me,” he said. “I’m not one of them. I think politics as usual is not progress.”
The video quality in Boland’s first campaign ad supports his assertion. While it included token shots of him strolling the city and chatting with constituents, the audio quality was tinny, with hollow-sounding music in the background at times drowning out his voice.
Still, even with a late entrance to the race and as a lower-tier candidate, Boland perhaps has a chance to contend in the race, as one of just two Republicans in the crowded field.
The Mayor’s race, along with City Council races, are nonpartisan, and candidates aren’t allowed to state their political affiliation explicitly, but that doesn’t keep voters from picking a favorite based on known partisan leanings.
Boland likely will have a hard time claiming the conservative lane against City Council member Robert Blackmon, who comes to the race with higher name recognition and is scooping up contributions so far from local Republicans. But he’s countering that with a message that appeals to moderate and unaffiliated voters who might not be interested in a partisan St. Pete.
“It’s time for a change for this new generation in St. Pete,” Boland implores in the video.
The ballot is set in the Mayor’s race, with a total of eight candidates battling in the Aug. 24 Primary Election, plus one write-in candidate. City Council member Darden Rice and former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, with Blackmon threatening, are the anticipated front-runners.
If politics behave as they often do in St. Pete elections, Boland could, at the very least, serve as a spoiler for Blackmon. The top two vote-getters in the Primary will move on to the Nov. 2 General Election. If Boland splits St. Pete’s Republican vote with Blackmon, that could keep them both from one of those spots.
Democrats hold a nearly 40,000 voter advantage with 89,644 registered Democrats and just 50,298 Republicans. There are another 48,343 no-party-affiliated candidates.