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Political Party with Adam Smith: Pinellas County’s topsy-turvey political landscape

Adam Smith

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Congressman Rick Kriseman or Congressman Chris Sprowls?

State Sen. Rick Baker, State Sen. Nick Diceglie, or State Sen. Ben Diamond?

Gov. Charlie Crist? Or Two-term Gov. Ron DeSantis?

With so many big races poised to break open in Pinellas County,  the latest edition of Political Party with Adam Smith features former State Sen. Jack Latvala, along with and Peter Schorsch and Janelle Irwin of FloridaPolitics.com, looking at various scenarios that may unfold.

The consensus was that U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is clearly the strongest Democrat to challenge Ron DeSantis for governor, but that DeSantis will be tough to beat.

“As of right now with everything that I’ve seen, I am not confident that even (Crist) could pull it off,” said Irwin.

“(Crist) represents the perfect contrast to DeSantis in terms of empathy,” said Schorsch.

And who’s the strongest candidate to run for Crist’s south Pinellas congressional seat?

“Kriseman would be the first name that would come to mind for the seat in either party,” Latvala said of Democratic St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, also suggesting Republican state Sen. Jeff Brandes as a strong prospect.

Schorsch predicted that the Republican-controlled legislator will revise the lines of Congressional District 13 to exclude Crist, but Latvala discounted the prospect of dramatically reworking congressional district lines in Pinellas. Even a Republican-friendly Supreme Court would not sign off on gerrymandered district lines that split municipalities and communities of interest in violation of a constitutional amendment voters passed in 2010, Latvala said.

“I really do think that Chris Sprowls is going to end up running for Congress,” Schorsch said of the Florida House Speaker from Palm Harbor. “I think that somehow some sort of deal gets reached at the end where lo and behold a district is drawn favorably to him.”

Another race drawing consideration speculation is the one to replace outgoing state Sen. Jeff Brandes in his Republican-leaning south Pinellas district. State Rep. Nick Diceglie also has announced raising $176,000, which may discourage other Republicans from taking him on.

But Republican former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker is often mentioned as a potential candidate for that seat (and for Congress).

Latvala called Baker an “outstanding public servant,” but said he would not be supported by Republican legislative leaders.

“In  today’s Tallahassee world, the leadership wants people to come up there and do what they’re told, and Rick is not going to do all that well in a 40-person collegial body,” said Latvala, a former maverick legislator who resigned in 2017 amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Schorsch noted Latvala’s effectiveness in assembling coalitions to thwart some of the most conservative and controversial proposals generated by his fellow Republicans.

“I don’t know if Jack Latvala has ever been missed more than he is right now in this senate,” Schorsch said. “There’s going to a lot of bad sh– coming out of Tallahassee … We are in dire need of some moderation in that Florida Senate.”

Latvala noted that soon after he left Tallahassee, lawmakers consolidated USF’s three campuses, a move widely decried in St. Petersburg. Hell will freeze over before he returns to Tallahassee, he said.

The guests also discussed St. Petersburg’s mayor’s race (Disclosure: I am working with mayoral candidate Ken Welch). Check out the full interview by clicking the arrow above.

Contact Adam Smith at asmith@mercuryllc.com.

 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Lisa

    March 26, 2021at4:15 pm

    What does it mean….” You are working with Ken Welch …?”

  2. Avatar

    Lisa Lanza

    December 31, 2021at9:56 am

    Are you planning to discuss the redistricting of Pinellas County Commission single member districts 4 and 5?

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