Ken Welch, frontrunner in St. Pete mayoral race, tests positive for COVID-19

Welch, Ken - 1
Welch announced his positive test Saturday night.

St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Ken Welch tested positive for COVID-19, he announced Saturday on Facebook.

The former Pinellas County Commissioner said he feels fine, but is “isolating and not spreading the virus to others.”

Welch ended his Facebook post, an image of his positive test, with two hashtags — Get tested and get vaccinated.

As of Monday afternoon the post, posted to his personal Facebook page, had received more than 200 reactions and nearly 100 comments, mostly from people wishing him a speedy recovery.

A subsequent post Sunday showed a picture of a local pastor, JC Pritchett II, leaving Welch a bubbly care package — orange juice and champagne. Pritchett called the yard drop a “mimosa ministry.”

“Great medicine! Hope you feel better soon,” said Rep. Ben Diamond, who is running for Congress in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Welch had previously missed a campaign fundraiser, organized by Democratic consultant Nick Janovsky, as he was awaiting test results.

“So this is a first,” Welch wrote. “While awaiting my COVID19 test results, I attended my own in-person fundraiser, via FaceTime.”

Welch is running to replace St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, who is leaving office due to term limits. He faces St. Pete City Council member Robert Blackmon in the General Election Nov. 2. Kriseman has endorsed Welch as his preferred successor.

Welch and Blackmon were scheduled to hold their first debate of the General Election in the coming days, but the event has been postponed. An alternative date has not yet been set.

Welch finished first in a crowded Primary Election Aug. 24 and leads polls in the General Election.

His positive COVID-19 test means Welch will be absent from the campaign trail for at least several days, though his campaign team will likely continue activity on his behalf.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]

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