For many, Labor Day symbolizes the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall. As such, I think its an appropriate moment to offer a status check on all things political.
- Jack Latvala's bid for Senate President in 2015
Here’s a thought that will send shudders along Adams Street: In 2015, imagine the governor’s office occupied by Democrat Charlie Crist and the Florida Senate presided over by Jack Latvala. I'm not predicting that’s what’s going to happen, but just the thought of it should be good for a fundraising letter or two. As an aside, anyone else surprised by Latvala’s decision to show his cards this early?
- How will Dennis Jones' old seat be drawn?
Make no mistake, there will be a seat in the Florida Senate which comprises most of South Pinellas. The seat might even extend into South Tampa (notice the talk at the public hearings about how northeast St. Petersburg has more in common with South Tampa than it does with the rest of Pinellas?) The question is whether the seat includes the minority-majority precincts in south St. Petersburg. A must-read opinion piece from the "legal mind of the Florida Senate" David Simmons says the minority-majority districts are here to stay.
- So how does that impact Jim Frishe vs. Leslie Waters?
Keeping the minority-majority district in South Pinellas all but guarantees that the Republican primary is where the race for this seat will be decided, regardless of whether Charlie Justice or Rick Kriseman decide to run. Right now, the primary is between Jim Frishe and Leslie Waters. Unfortunately for "The Wave," her money isn't coming in fast enough, no matter how hard she campaigns. The real question I have about this race is: Why does everyone underestimate Jim Frishe? This is a guy who whipped Dennis Jones' son, despite being heavily out-spent. He's raising money, working hard and right on the issues. Look for the smart money in Tallahassee to stop searching for an alternative and rally 'round Frishe.
- Where does that leave Jeff Brandes and Dana Young?
With long political careers in front of them. The Democrats are wasting their time targeting Brandes. Even if he didn't have a checkbook that could buy all of the TV airtime in District 52, he's got a trump card in the PolitiFact article attesting to his independence. As for Young, she's turning into the very attractive 800-pound gorilla in the room; no one wants to run against her and no one (Bill Galvano, Jim Norman, etc.) wants her eyeing their state Senate seat.
- Anything else to look out for in the 2012 legislative races?
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown." That's how I view Tampa Bay. Who the hell knows what is going to happen? But here are some items to keep an eye on:
Rep. John Legg vs. the other guy with a lot of money. This race all depends on how much influence will Mike Fasano still have come next year. I'm figuring Mike will still have a lot of juice, which bodes well for Legg.
What is Rep. Darryl Rouson going to do? Run for re-election or challenge Arthenia Joyner for her state Senate seat?
Will Sen. Jim Norman get primaried? Probably not, but Jamie Grant or Dana Young could and have at least a 50-50 shot at winning.
What's Rep. Rick Kriseman going to do? Challenge Bill Foster for Mayor of St. Petersburg. And lose.
- How's Peter Nehr doing?
It's been a somewhat tough year for Peter Nehr, who endured a lot of negative press related to his short-term ownership of an Internet gaming cafe. There has been and (is still) talk of Nehr being primaried by an establishment, self-funding Republican in 2012. But think Nehr is still too strong to take out head-on. Notice that, with his buddy Rep. Chris Dorworth ascending to the Speakership in 2015-16, Nehr got better committee assignments for the upcoming session. Bottom line: Anyone thinking of challenging Nehr probably either needs to write a BBBIIIGGG check or wait until he's term-limited.
- That's enough about 2012, what about the 2011 municipal elections in St. Petersburg?
Unfortunately, Bill Dudley will get another term. What a waste of space.
Fortunately, Steve Kornell will get a full-term. Bill Protz is a nice man, but he should have never run.
Hopefully, Charlie Gerdes wins, despite some of the people associated with his campaign. He'll be a bomb-thrower on Council, but he'll also be a reliably progressive vote on the same side of Kornell, Wengay Newton and Karl Nurse and, on some days, Jeff Danner.
As for Newton versus Gershom Faulkner, if Gershom could raise any real money Wengay would be in trouble, but since he hasn't, it's unlikely he can knock off the incumbent.
Any other questions?