ST. PETERSBURG - Peter Schorsch is a political consultant who writes a well-read daily news blog on Florida politics called Saint Petersblog. Schorsch also is the "boo-ster" who helped organize a highly publicized protest Friday of Gov. Rick Scott at opening day for the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg.
Hundreds of people lined the streets outside and filled the bleachers at Tropicana Stadium to boo the Florida governor, who made the ceremonial first pitch in a game between the Rays and Baltimore Orioles. They responded to a social media campaign that Schorsch helped lead to protest some of Scott's recent spending cuts.
"For so many reasons, Gov. Scott deserves a good ol' fashioned 'Bronx Cheer,' " said the Facebook invitation that drew 1,238 positive responses. "Even if you are not going to the game, you can take a moment to turn on the TV, tune to the Rays game and boo the Governor."
Dubbed "Boo Rick Scott on Opening Day," the Facebook campaign drew almost as much media attention locally and statewide as the Major League Baseball game itself.
Schorsch, a St. Petersburg resident, answered questions about the reasons for the protest and its effectiveness.
Q. How did this media campaign get started?
A. The social media campaign began as a brain child of my friend Mark Ferrulo and myself, after watching Gov. Scott get booed off the field at a Spring Training game. He and I were so upset with so many of the recent decisions by Scott, particularly the idea to immediately cut funding for the developmentally disabled.
Q. How many people do you estimate turned out?
A. I have to admit that I don't know how many people the event turned out, but I believe it motivated several hundred, if not thousands, of Floridians to take a moment and contemplate just how off-track the Governor is going. More than 1,200 people signed up on Facebook (people are still signing up!) and the resultant media attention made it the first significant anti-Scott protest since he became Governor.
Q. Will you be doing this type of organizing again in the future when the governor is at a public event?
A. So long as the Governor continues to pursue policies which negatively impact the neediest among us, yes, we will continue to protest Scott's actions.
Q. Were you paid, as a political consultant, to organize this event? Who else was involved in creating this?
A. No, I was not paid or compensated in any fashion to organize this event. In fact, the effort probably got me in trouble with many of my Republican clients and/or allies.
Q. What is your political affiliation, and how did it play into this event?
A. I am an independent, but I am known as a progressive. Yet, I work hand in hand with many Republicans. I was actually one of the very few liberals/progressives to ask for the left/Democrats to give Gov. Scott time to get accustomed to office -- that maybe he would be the strong medicine the state needed. Unfortunately, my hope turned out to be a waste.
Q. Anything else?
A. I am earnest when I say I wish Gov. Scott the best, because I believe in the power of good, smart government. Unfortunately, all of the worst-case scenarios about Gov. Scott -- such as the conspiracy that he simply "bought" the Governor's office to further his business interests -- look more plausible every day. I am not a radical or anything like that; in fact, most would say I am an "establishment" guy, but I fear that the story of Gov. Rick Scott is not going to end well.