The results of the elections were quite surprising… Here are my thoughts:
1. New Tampa voters are no longer allowed to complain about anything. Julie Brown, the second place candidate in District 4 received 17 more votes than ALL THREE candidates in District 7 – combined. The old adage plays here: “If you don’t vote, you can’t bitch.”
2. Mitch Kates really is da man! I picked his guy (Charlie Justice) in the November election, but picked against his girl (Mary Mulhern) this time around. Mary had 1/3rd the money and less name recognition, but it was about turnout (see #1 above) – and the trend of South Tampa becoming more Democratic – something Wayne Garcia noted months ago. Karen Thurman needs to hire Mitch, if one of the ’08 candidates don’t do it first… and if she does, RPOF will be in for a long election year.
3. Speaking of Republicans, why does the Hillsborough County Republican Party sit out these elections? I know, they are “non-partisan” – but that only means the candidates don’t disclose their political party. The GOP is light years ahead of the Democrats in getting voters to the polls, but when they stay on the sidelines – they have problems (see #1 above). Harrison’s campaign should prove that in low-turnout elections, even a partial GOP machine can be successful – he lost by 588 votes, and there were 1,700 undervotes in his race.
4. Joe Redner is evolving his public persona, and finished a very strong second to Gwen Miller. True, he still owns Mons Venus among other ventures, but because he doesn’t have to fight Bob Buckhorn any longer, that side of him has taken a back seat to a more populist message. Wayne Garcia asks if Joe Redner can win – I think he clearly can.
5. How the heck did Charlie “White Chocolate” Perkins get almost 1/3rd of the vote? His only real claim to fame is fighting Ronda Storms. Given that voters usually have short memories, I doubt many in this north Tampa district really remember that fight. Looking at the precincts will give us a better picture, but it could be that his base wasn’t New Tampa.
6. Randy Baron – the most intelligent and capable candidate in his race – received the endorsements of both the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times. He finished dead last. (Sidebar: Don’t worry Randy, I finished dead last in my primary, too. It’s not so bad). I hope he runs for office again, regardless of party affiliation. Smart people need to run for office — usually a smart “strategery.”
7. The City of Tampa needs to move the election to November. I never understand why cities in Florida have elections at such odd times – heck, look at the slate of dates for the Pinellas County cities! It’s not like the people care that much… so if you moved it to a more traditional date (even if it’s not held at the same time as other elections) you would increase turnout. Heck, I would even propose that the Legislature should dictate all elections should be held on the same dates state-wide… the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even years.