The most exciting local election in Pinellas County clearly is the race for Sheriff.
Former four-term Sheriff Everett Rice took an early lead in polling a year ago, but incumbent Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott over Rice, retains a commanding list of supporters who include: Sheriffs Coats, Gee, Judd & Knight; Sen. Latvala; Representatives Ahern & Hooper, the Clerk of Court, Property Appraiser, & Tax Collector; Commissioners Bostock & Latvala; Mayors Foster, Hibbard, Peters, & Mischler; and many more.
Charges of "birtherism, double-dipping, and even corruption are being bantered about by the leading candidates's surrogates.
Make no mistake, there are only two "leading" candidate, Gualtieri and Rice. Everyone, and I mean everyone, knows this. The polling proves it. The media coverage reinforces it. Whoever the next Sheriff will be is going to be decided in the Republican primary.
Democrat Scott Swope, a well-meaning candidate, has little chance of winning, but he is carrying the standard of a major party, so, I guess, he should be included in discussions about the Sheriff's race.
But Greg Pound, a write-in candidate, has no business being included in the discussions or debates.
Unfortunately, my beloved Suncoast Tiger Bay saw fit to invite Pound to be part of its next panel on the Sheriff's race on June 21. Gualtieri, Rice, and Swope, of course, were also invited.
What people will be coming to see is Gualtieri vs. Rice. Yes, some Democrats will toe the party line and root for Swope and that's all well and good.
But Pound's presence is a distraction.
Pound has no chance of winning. None. Nor is he a genuine candidate. He's a write-in. He's raised no money, has no organization to speak of. Yet, he will be afforded the same status as Gualtieri, Rice and Swope. It's not like there is separate panel table for the write-in candidates.
So instead of seeing Gualtieri and Rice engage in a genuine debate, as only Tiger Bay can provide, there will be a panel discussion during which Pound will likely receive a quarter of the speaking time.
At next week's Tiger Bay panel, the write-in candidate will receive about 25% of the vote.
How is that fair? To those listening in the crowd? To the legitimate candidates speaking? To the voters of Pinellas County who depend on forums, such as this, to help decide clarify the race?
The answer is, it's not fair.
Still, I urge you to RSVP for this event. Gualtieri vs. Rice is must-see TV at this point.
But no one will blame you if you tune-out the rest of the program.