Here are all the major endorsements in the 2021 St. Petersburg primary election so far

St. Petersburg
What do these endorsements mean? Well, that’s up to the reader.

On Aug. 24, St. Petersburg voters have the opportunity to vote for city leaders, including their choice for St. Pete’s next Mayor and City Council candidates in Districts 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8. Many voters have already submitted mail-in ballots mailed out over the last few weeks.

Voting instructions are at the bottom of this post, but you might just want to be told who to vote for.

Pressing issues are on the table, and they’ve been hotly debated by candidates in recent months: Plans for the Tropicana Field Site (also known as the Gas Plant District), advancing economic recovery for individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19, affordable housing, supporting St. Pete’s workforce, enhancing public transit, and promoting climate resiliency.

Current Mayor Rick Kriseman, who’s served as head of the Sunshine City since 2014, is term-limited, meaning he’s unable to run for reelection. Eight candidates, and one write-in, have filed to fulfill his role as Mayor.

Multiple seats for City Council are also up for grabs. Two districts, Districts 4 and 8, are open seats, meaning incumbents are term-limited and cannot run for reelection. City Council races for District 2 and District 6, which currently have two candidates (including their respective incumbents), will not appear on the Primary ballot. However, they will appear on the General Election ballot in November (Voting Day is Nov. 8).

Let’s be real: Endorsements often have sway over who voters ultimately decide to vote for in elections. Receiving an endorsement, particularly from an organization or union, requires a vetting process — which can, more or less, inform voters on the thought that went into deciding who to endorse in a race.

Want to know who fellow city leaders are supporting? Community advocates? Organized labor? Here are all of the major endorsements — as in not every endorsement, just the big ones — in the St. Pete primary election so far.

Mayor of St. Petersburg

Eight candidates, and one write-in candidate, have filed to run to become St. Pete’s next Mayor. St. Pete’s government operates as a “strong Mayor” government. The Mayor essentially serves as the CEO of the city. While the City Council has legislative power, the Mayor has veto power.

City races, including the mayoral and all City Council races, are nonpartisan. Several candidates have raked in a number of major endorsements. Current Mayor Kriseman has endorsed Ken Welch, a former Pinellas County Commissioner, to be his successor.

Candidates Michael Ingram, Marcile Powers, Torry Nelson, and Michael Levinson (a write-in candidate) have not received any major endorsements, as far as CL is aware

Here are the major endorsements in the St. Pete mayoral race.

Ken Welch

— Rick Kriseman, Current Mayor of St. Pete

Charlie Crist, U.S. House Representative (D)

— Michele Rayner, Florida House Representative (D)

— St. Pete City Council Members: Amy Foster, Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, Deborah Figgs-Sanders

— Pinellas County Commissioners: Charlie Justice, Janet Long, Pat Gerard, Rene Flowers, and Karen Seel

— Bob Gualtieri, Pinellas County Sheriff

— Sean Shaw, former Florida State Rep. and Founder of People Over Profits

— Andy Oliver, Pastor of Allendale United Methodist Church

— An extensive list of LGBTQ advocates, elected officials, and St. Pete residents

— Size Matters lawyer John Morgan

— Pinellas County Young Democrats

— Pinellas County Stonewall Democrats

— SEIU Florida (with Darden Rice)

— National Organization of Women (NOW) PAC of Florida (with Darden Rice)

Darden Rice

Anna Eskamani, Florida State Representative (D)

Annette Taddeo, Florida State Senator (D)

Gina Driscoll, St. Pete City Council Member

Kevin Beckner, Former Hillsborough County Commissioner

— Equality Florida

— LGBTQ Victory Fund

— SEIU Florida (with Ken Welch)

— National Organization of Women (NOW) PAC of Florida (with Ken Welch)

— EMILY’s List

— Ruth’s List

Robert Blackmon

Kathleen Peters, Pinellas County Commissioner

— Dick Greco, Former Mayor of Tampa

Bob Ulrich, Former Mayor of St. Pete

Jeffrey Brandes, Florida State Senator (R)

Larry Williams, Former St. Pete City Council member

Kathleen Ford, Former St. Pete City Council member

Doreen Cauldwell, Vice Mayor of Clearwater

— Iron Workers Local 397

— Florida Gulf Coast Associated Builders and Contractors

Wengay Newton

Rick Baker, former Mayor of St. Petersburg

Pete Boland

— Republican restaurateur and political newcomer, says he’s been endorsed by 50+ small businesses in the Tampa Bay area in his run for St. Pete Mayor …

City Council District 1 endorsements

District 1 is holding an early, special election. This comes after sitting Councilmember Blackmon submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 5, 2022 — earlier this year, in preparation for a mayoral run. Four candidates have filed to run in the District 1 race: Ed Carlson, Copley Gerdes, John Hornbeck and Bobbie Shay Lee.

Copley Gerdes

— Rick Kriseman, Mayor of St. Pete

— Equality Florida PAC

— Suncoast Police Benevolent Association

Ed Carlson

Linda Chaney, Florida State Rep (R)

Dennis Jones, Former Florida Sen. (D)

— Bobbie Shay Lee

Chris Latvala, Florida State Rep. ®

Leslie Waters, Mayor of Seminole

Bob Dillinger, former Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender

Candidate Ed Carlson has also reportedly received more than 110 “citizen endorsements.”

City Council District 4 endorsements

Five candidates have filed to run for the open District 4 seat, which is currently occupied by Darden Rice, who is term-limited. Rice is currently running for Mayor after serving on the City Council for two four-year terms. She has not yet endorsed a successor.

The five candidates running include: Jarib Figueredo, Lisset Hanewicz, Clifford Hobbs III, Tom Mullins, Doug O’Dowd. Two candidates, Wendy Wesley and Lauren Hobbes, have withdrawn from the District 4 race.

Tom Mullins

— Jeffrey Brandes, Florida State Sen. (R)

Lisset Hanewicz

— EMILY’s List

— Florida National Organization for Women (NOW)

— Pinellas County Realtors

— Suncoast Police Benevolent Association

— Ruth’s List

— International Association of Fire Fighters Local 747

Clifford Hobbs III

— Pinellas County Democratic Progressive Caucus

— Equality Florida PAC

— Pinellas Stonewall Democrats

— Florida For Change

City Council District 8 endorsements

Four candidates have filed to run for the open District 8 seat. District 8 is currently repped by City Council member Amy Foster, who is term-limited and therefore unable to run for reelection. The four candidates on the District 8 ballot are Dane Kuplicki, Jeffrey Danner, Richie Floyd, and Jamie Mayo.

Richie Floyd

Amy Foster, St. Pete City Council

Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, St. Pete City Council

Andy Oliver, Pastor of Allendale United Methodist Church

— West Central Florida Labor Council

— Sierra Club

— Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida

— Democratic Socialists of America

— Dream Defenders

— SEIU Florida

— 1199 SEIU Local 1199

— SEIU Florida Public Service Union (FPSU)

Jeffrey Danner

— Ed Montanari, St. Pete City Council

Leslie Curran, Former St. Pete City Council

Charlie Gerdes, Former St. Pete City Council

— Suncoast Police Benevolent Association

Dane Kuplicki

— Pinellas County Realtors Association

What do these endorsements mean?

Well, that’s up to the reader.

Endorsements from individuals can be motivated by shared values, working relationships, personal relationships, political favors, or moneyed interests.

Groups and organizations, including labor unions, frequently endorse based on stated values of candidates, candidate commitments from, and proven track records of advocacy or action to match the rhetoric they espouse while on the campaign trail.

A common critique of endorsements, particularly those awarded to so-called career politicians, is that they can overshadow earnest political newcomers.

But what all an endorsement really means will depend on the endorsing individual or organization, as well as what their endorsement process looks like. Do members of an organization democratically decide who to endorse? What criteria do they have? What do they look for in candidates?

Organizations and individuals will often release statements to explain why they are endorsing candidates for elected office. These can be vague, or specific.

If you’re curious about a specific endorsement, your best bet is to look up the endorsing entity for a statement, or contact them directly to know why they chose to endorse a specific candidate.

Creative Loafing


One comment

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