Tampa Bay’s primary election Winners & Losers

By on August 15, 2012

Tuesday’s slate of elections in Tampa Bay certainly provided a list of winners and losers and I’m not just talking about the candidates. Here is my list of the real winners and losers coming out of Tuesday’s primary.

Winners

Bay News 9 - In addition to generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in political advertising opportunities for Bright House Networks, the all-news, all-the-time channel was a must-watch for those following the delayed election results in Pinellas County.

Jay Beyrouti - The chairman of the Pinellas GOP’s lock on the local party has never been stronger.  And having raised over $800,000 this election cycle, the Pinellas Republican Executive Committee is one of the best funded county organizations in the state. After Beyrouti is done playing host during the Republican National Convention later this month, he will have a key role in national, state and local races.

Corcoran & Johnston - Despite its preferred candidate losing in HD 59, the uber-lobbying firm was heavily involved in Jake Raburn’s win in HD 57. This, along with expected victories in November for Al Higginbotham and Dan Raulerson, will make it a healthy cycle for Corcoran & Johnston.

Charlie Crist – The former governor endorsed congressional candidates Al Lawson and Patrick Murphy and Pinellas County Commission candidate Ken Welch, all of whom won on Tuesday. Also, one of Crist’s most vocal opponents during the 2010 US Senate race, Pinellas GOP State Committeeman Tony DiMatteo lost his post.

Mark Danish - This Democrat in House District 63 has the perfect background and profile to challenge Shawn Harrison in November. His decisive win yesterday sets up a titanic battle in this Carrolwood-based seat that has trended towards the Democrats.

Mike Fasano - The Representative-turned-Senator-soon-to-be-Representative not only handily won his primary, but his political allies, including Richard Corcoran and John Legg, also won. If only Bill Bunting had lost his race for Pasco GOP State Committeeman, it would have been a perfect night for Fasano.

Adam Goodman - The impresario of the thirty-second spot helped more winning campaigns during the primary, such as Bean’s and Brandes’, than there is room to list. Now, going into the general, Adam and his Victory Group, can sock away bookoo bucks from commissions on millions of dollars in media buys.

Nick Hansen - Two-and-a-half years ago, Jeff Brandes was a virtual unknown in Pinellas County. Today, he is all but a State Senator. Along that ride, Hansen has been by his side the entire time. No longer as popular in certain local circles, Hansen can not only point to Brandes’ victory, but wins for his statewide clients, including Halsey Bashears in HD 7 and Marco Pena in HD 49.

The Incumbents – While some of them like to live well-below the radar, while others like to live well-above it, Tampa Bay’s incumbents in the Florida House, such as Jamie Grant, Ed Hooper, Peter Nehr and Darryl Rouson, all cruised to victory or were re-elected without opposition.

Chris Latvala - It may be hard to separate the son from the father, but Chris was, at least in name, in charge of three winning judicial campaigns. He was also a big part of Bob Gualtieri’s, Ed Hooper’s and Kathleen Peters’ winning campaigns. Look for Latvala the Young to run for Hooper’s State House seat in two years.

The Operatives – I won’t be able to name them all, but there is now a wide talent pool of young political operatives working in Tampa Bay: Matt Lettelier, who managed John Legg’s campaign; Michael Wickersheim, Chris Spencer, Sydney Riley and many others who helped Jeff Brandes; Anthony Katchuk, Briggitta Johnson, Sara Pennington are on Team Latvala. Etc., etc. Even the Democrats have some decent operatives, such as Franco Ripple helping Dwight Dudley.

Ron Pierce - The former policy adviser to Tom Lee was already sitting pretty before Tuesday night’s results. Now Pierce will have his ol’ boss back in the capital. What a perfect selling point to prospective clients.

Gov. Rick Scott - It pains me to credit the man, but Scott is a winner, at least as far as the primary elections are concerned. His appointees, Chris Nocco in Pasco and Glen Gilzean and Bob Gualtieri in Pinellas, all won or are headed to run-offs.

Robot Cars - One of the most bizarre ads of the primary was an attack on Jeff Brandes for his support of the Google Car. While the attack did not make much headway, the issue became a cause de celebre among automotive and technology enthusiasts throughout the country. Forbes, The Huffington Post and the New York Times all wrote about the issue.

Those Who Advertise On This Blog - With two exceptions, the candidates who advertised on SaintPetersBlog won yesterday. Honestly, this is just an indication of a smart campaign organization. As for the non-candidate advertisers, there have been almost 140,000 hits on the site during the last two days, so, yeah, they’re getting their money’s worth.

Dana Young - The rock-star Representative from South Tampa was all-in for Aaron Bean in SD 4 and Jeff Brandes in SD 22, dispatching her own campaign staffers to work for these candidates, while she herself also actively campaigned for Bean and Brandes. Whether it be on-the-ground or on Twitter, Rep. Young was a vocal cheerleader for her friends and allies.

Mixed-bag

Jack Hebert - The Mallard Group went one-for-two in the primary, as Frank Farkas easily won his HD 68 primary, but Randy Johnson is behind in HD 55.

Carrie Henriquez and Christian Ulvert - Ulvert is directing the Florida Democratic Party’s House Victory operations, while Henriquez is on-the-ground in Tampa Bay for the party. They really didn’t have to do much Tuesday, but beginning today, they have their work cut out for them with several battleground races throughout the region.

Jack Latvala - Say what you will about the ol’ grizzly bear’s ambitions for the Senate Presidency, but Latvala defended his home turf. What Latvala’s critics forget is that many of his allies — Charlie Dean, Greg Evers — won re-election without opposition. Oh, and along the way, Latvala’s consulting firm banked hundreds of thousands of dollars from the mailers and TV it created for its clients.

Brock Mikosky - Coming off a string of losses and misfires, Mikosky helped pulled off quite an upset via Ross Spano’s win in House District 59. Beating his friendly rival Anthony Pedicini only made the victory that much sweeter. Still, Mikosky has a long way to go before he matches the client list of other, more established consultants.

St. Pete Polls - The polling company everyone is wondering about had, as I predicted, had mixed results with their predictions of Tuesday’s results. Yes, they were right-on on the big ticket races such as Gualtieri vs. Rice and Brandes vs. Frishe, but their numbers were way, way off in some of the down ballot races, such as those for judge and school board. What was really embarrassing though was its poll of the Senate District 8 race showing Pat Patterson leading Dorothy Hukill. Patterson wasn’t even on the ballot.

Joelle Ober - The Hillsborough judge may have beaten John Grant for another term on the bench, but a Judicial Qualifications Commission hearing could be in her future after some of the stunts she pulled to win re-election.

Gregory Wilson - Wilson will tell you that, in any election cycle in which your clients pay their bills on-time, you cannot be considered a loser. I’ve come to certainly see the wisdom in that.  Wilson’s done some pretty good design work this cycle and he helped Rene Flowers finish in first place for a seat on the Pinellas School Board. But Wilson was also heavily involved in Jim Jackson’s disappointing third-place finish for a separate School Board race.

Losers

The Times‘ Bay Buzz - Billing itself as the “source for Tampa Bay politics news and discussion,” the Bay Buzz ran one (!) entry during the time polls were open on Election Day and it was a story first reported by 10 News and SaintPetersBlog. Just. One. Post. Yesterday was yet another embarrassing day for the decrepit Bay Buzz blog, which, were it a horse, would be shot and put out of its misery.

The Beaches - With Dennis Jones term-limited, it was bad enough for the communities which line Pinellas’ Gulf Coast. But then their preferred candidate in the Senate District 22 race, Jim Frishe, also lost. Were Josh Shulman to defeat Kathleen Peters in the general, the beaches will have little influence in Tallahassee, despite being a major economic generator for the region.

The Burgin clan – I still can’t figure out why Rachel Burgin gave up a safe seat in the Florida House for a sure loss against Tom Lee. She was given such a gift by the Hillsborough GOP, only to squander it a few years later. What’s worse is the way she lost with a scorched earth strategy that won’t soon be forgotten.

Creativity - The concept apparently died some time in July after yet another uninspiring mailer came off a printer in Clearwater. As a Pollie-award winning designer, I can say, without question, that the work being produced is the least creative I’ve seen in my career.

Deborah Clark - Thank goodness the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections does not have a real opponent on the ballot in November, otherwise, after the “glitches” in her office Tuesday, she would be in real political trouble. The SOEs in Pasco and Hillsborough ran circles around the otherwise reliable Clark. A real disappointment.

Tony DiMatteo - To think, just under two years ago, DiMatteo, a FOM (Friend of Marco) was a candidate for Chair of the Republican Party of Florida. Yesterday, he lost his race to be Pinellas’ State Committeeman. Tony told a lot of people he really didn’t care what happened the race. The trouble with that is, people took him at his word.

Anthony Pedicini – My dear friend had many winners throughout the state, but had a lot of problems closer to home. He took it on the chin in the Pinellas Sheriff’s race and in the closely-watched House District 59 (he repped Joe Wicker, who lost to Ross Spano) and 69 (he helped David Phillips who lost to Kathleen Peters) races.

Mary Repper - The supposedly retired political consultant has had her hand in two races over the last two years — Rose Ferlita’s loss in the Tampa Mayor’s race and Rice’s loss in Pinellas Sheriff’s race. Repper once bestrode Tampa Bay like a colossus, but it’s long since past time she genuinely stays retired.

Everett Rice – The Dick Greco of Pinellas politics did permanent damage to his reputation with an odd, if not offensive, campaign. Rice would have been better off had he just gone on a cruise for last three months rather than swing at every pitch Gualtieri threw at him. To think, at one point, Rice was up 43 points, yet he lost tonight by double-digits.

The local Tea Party elements – To all of the 9/12 and Patriot organizations, go sell crazy somewhere else. Across the board, Tea Party candidates lost races in Tampa Bay, whether it be the loon who challenged Peter Nehr or the actually-credible candidate who ran against Victor Crist for the Hillsborough County Commission. The Tea Party may be strong in other parts of Florida, but it cannot grab more than a foothold in Pasco, Pinellas or Hillsborough.

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