Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book is backing former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch in his bid for St. Petersburg Mayor.
Book took over as Senate Democratic Leader after the Democratic caucus grew frustrated with Sen. Gary Farmer’s leadership. The caucus ousted Farmer and replaced him with Book just prior to the end of the 2021 Legislative Session.
“As the Democratic Leader in the Florida Senate, I believe it’s critical for Democrats to win up and down the ballot next November and I am proud to support local city leaders like Ken who have the both background and experience necessary to make a difference for everyday Floridians,” Book said in a statement. “I am confident Ken will be a tremendous partner with local and state government and I look forward to working with him to improve the lives of St. Pete residents when he is Mayor.”
Although the mayoral race is non-partisan — candidates’ political affiliations don’t appear on the ballot — it’s no secret where they align, especially when looking at endorsers. Welch, a registered Democrat, faces Republican City Council member Robert Blackmon.
“Senator Book is a steadfast leader for her constituents. Her passion and work ethic are of great benefit to the millions of Floridans in our state. I’m proud to have her endorsement and as I have done for 20 years, I’ll continue to work with her and our other state partners to find areas of collaboration that keep our citizens safe and move our great community forward in St. Petersburg,” Welch said in a statement.
The partisan nature of the election puts Blackmon at disadvantage. Among the city’s nearly 190,000 registered voters, more than 88,000 are Democrats while fewer than 50,000 are Republicans, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections.
Welch faces Blackmon in the Nov. 2 General Election after finishing first in a crowded field in the Aug. 24 Primary. He’s running to replace Mayor Rick Kriseman, who is leaving office due to term limits and has endorsed Welch as his successor. Former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has also offered his support.