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Here's where sh*t stands in Tampa Bay politics – the '120 days to go' edition

By on July 9, 2012

Conveniently enough, today, the first Monday after a long holiday week, marks the 120 days-to-go spot on the election calendar. Here’s where sh*t stands in Tampa Bay politics.

Deborah Clark, the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, announced that her office is mailing 225,000 ballots tomorrow, July 10. -35 days before what was once known as Election Day.  Those 225,000 ballots are the ballgame. So look for a barrage of direct mail, phone calls and television ads this week.

Sure, US Rep. Bill Young responded poorly to an obvious ambush that was videotaped and widely disseminated.  But one gaffe should not be enough to end Young’s political career.  Congressman Young has done more and still does more for this community than any other elected official in Tampa Bay. Period. Replacing him with a backbench member of the minority party would be the worst possible political decision this community could make. I like Democrat Jessica Ehrlich and respect her candidacy, but keeping Young is a no-brainer.

Still waiting to hear Nina Hayden explain why she bounced her qualifying check to the Florida Division of Elections. Unfortunately, she will, at the least, still be on the 225,000 early ballots that will be mailed tomorrow, despite the bounced check and shoddy paperwork.

The entire Pinellas Park City Council has endorsed Jim Frishe for State Senate District 22. Ho-hum, right? Not exactly. These are elected officials of the third largest city in the district. And their endorsements burnish Frishe’s argument that he has the support of the local political establishment.

Part of Jeff Brandes’ rationale for running against Frishe is the argument that ‘no one wants Jim Frishe as their Senator.’ But with a list of endorsements four or five times longer than Brandes, it would appear there are a lot of poeple, mostly outside of downtown St. Pete, who do want Frishe as their Senator.

It was only up for a moment before she changed it, but State Senate District 24 candidate Rachel Burgin’s new avatar for her Twitter account turned a few heads. Did anyone grab a screen-capture of it?

One of the storylines I am following this week is whether first-time candidates Kathleen Peters, David Phillips or Josh Shulman able to raise big-time money for the campaigns for House District 69? In perhaps the most overlooked legislative race, newcomers Kathleen Peters, David Phillip and Josh  Shulman now have a full fundraising period under their belts to demonstrate their cash-calling prowess.  Whichever one of these candidates breaks out of the pack now may remain the front-runner through November.

Some endorsements have greater mean when paired to a particular office, such as the Police Benevolent Association’s endorsement in a state attorney’s race or the Florida Education Association’s endorsement in a school board member’s race, argues Patrick Mantiege.

Two endorsements that should be given greater weight in the Property Appraiser’s race are the endorsements of the realtors and builders.

The Tampa Bay Builders Association just endorsed Bob Henriquez for Property Appraiser. The Realtors are going with a non-endorsements during the primary season.

On a long enough timeline, Bob Gualtieri would defeat Everett Rice for Pinellas County Sheriff.  I just don’t know if an election that will be decided by August 14 is on that timeline.

Gualtieri is running, in my estimation, the best campaign of any local pol, while Rice seems to be stumbling toward the finish line. The question I keep asking myself about Rice is, what kind of leader will he be by the fifth or sixth year of his tenure because if he wins now, he’ll almost certainly run for and win re-election. He’s sixty-seven years old now.  Rice will be in his mid-70s during a second-term.

I just don’t know how comfortable I am with a septuagenarian as sheriff.

The Suncoast PBA is  endorsing Neil Brickfrield’s re-election campaign.

I recently asked Brickfield how he felt about his race. “I’m behind, buddy!” was his quick response. Brickfield, an astute political consultant himself, knows that the only way to run for office is as if you are down in the polls. Better to be pleasantly surprised on Election Day than disappointed.

Two high-profile school choice advocates have endorsed Pinellas County School Board candidate Glenton Gilzean, his campaign announced this week.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush isn’t known for endorsing a lot of candidates, but in a press release on Tuesday, Bush said: “Glen Gilzean is a champion for students. Glen has the courage and experience to tackle the complex issues facing Pinellas County schools.

On Friday, incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford also endorsed Gilzean in his bid to keep the District 7 seat.

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