St. Petersburg Mayoral race seen as a proxy for Governor's race

Statewide GOP rooting hard for Bill Foster

ST. PETERSBURG - The St. Petersburg Mayoral race is supposed to be non-partisan, but the clashes between the front runners in debates leading up to the election suggest otherwise.

In one debate moment Bill Foster, a Republican, asked rival Rick Kriseman, "are you bringing that partisan politics to St. Petersburg?"
"Bill Foster is a deep rooted Republican and Rick Kriseman is a progressive Democrat," said political consultant Peter Schorsch.

Few people have watched St. Pete politics more closely than Schorsch, editor of Saint PetersBlog. 

Schorsch believes Republicans and Democrats statewide are watching this mayor's race closely and says the contest could be seen as a proxy for the upcoming Governor's race.

"On one hand you've got a conservative, unpopular but effective leader, Bill Foster. On the other hand you have a popular progressive who's a little bit more aligned with Charlie Crist. So as goes St. Petersburg, so could the rest of Florida," said Schorsch.

Other analysts say local elections have too many unique issues to serve as a reliable barometer of statewide trends. 

In St. Petersburg, voters will be considering  the candidate's positions on the  future of the Rays, the Pier and the City's economically depressed neighborhoods.

But the fact that a sitting Mayor will likely be forced into a runoff shows that Bill Foster has work to do between now and the general election.

"I think the challenge for Bill Foster come tomorrow will be how do I find another 15,16, or 17 percent of the vote on November" said Schorsch.

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