We look at St. Petersburg’s (partisan) non-partisan primary mayoral race between Baker and Kriseman

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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On August 29, St. Petersburg could choose its next mayor. According to the Pinellas County supervisor of elections, 169,770 residents of the city will be eligible to vote in the upcoming primary election, meaning that 169,770 residents of the Sunshine City will have one of three choices that day.

First, to elect the next mayor. Second, to send two candidates to a run-off election in November, should no one receive 50 percent plus one of the vote. Or third, to stay home and let every other eligible voter decide on their behalf.

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Pride Marches On: St. Pete Pride celebrates diversity in the ‘Burg with a year of firsts

By : Jeremy Williams
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ST. PETERSBURG – After all the controversy over the changes St. Pete Pride brought this year, it all seemed to be put aside for Pride weekend as thousands gathered along Bayshore Drive for the city’s first Pride parade downtown.

The Pride parade, the largest in the state, began with the first ever TransPride March along the parade route. More than 500 participants walked, starting from the end of the official parade route at Albert Whitted Park to the parade’s starting point at Vinoy Park, as watchers waved trans flags and shouted support to those walking.

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Kriseman raises the Pride flag at City Hall and Crist recognizes Pride in House

By : Jeremy Williams
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For the fourth year in a row, St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman sent the rainbow Pride flag up the flagpole in front of City Hall June 22, bringing in start of St. Pete Pride weekend.

This is the fourth year in a row that Kriseman has acknowledged the LGBTQ community of St. Pete with this ceremony.

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Crist comes to Metro: The U.S. Congressman and former Florida governor eyes expansion, promises political strength

By : Samuel Johnson
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(James Keane (L) speaks with Charlie Crist about the Metro expansion in St. Petersburg. Photo by Samuel Johnson.)

ST. PETERSBURG – Charlie Crist came back to his Tampa Bay roost May 30 to survey one of the area’s biggest LGBTQ success stories and to tackle an uncertain healthcare climate.

Crist, U.S. Representative for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, was given a tour of Metro Health and Wellness’ flagship facility in the city. After all, the 13th district includes a large swath of St. Petersburg where the facility resides. Metro Health and Wellness is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with a $5.2 million dollar expansion and renovation. This bay area success is a one-stop location in Tampa Bay for primary care, HIV prevention and treatment, behavioral care, therapy and much more.

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: Kriseman at Mary’s, HRC on St. Pete and Chick-fil-A in politics

By : Anonymous
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Mary’s Grand Opening

While the new Hamburger Mary’s at Tyrone Square in St. Petersburg has been opened for a few weeks now, they made the entire thing official with a grand opening ceremony Oct. 13.

A huge crowd gathered in the kitschy, fun restaurant known for big juicy burgers and even juicer drag queens as St. Pete mayor and super politician Rick Kriseman, along with family in tow, cut the ribbon. Mayor Kriseman wasn’t the only local celeb there. The event was also attended by former Republican governor (and future Democratic Congressman?) Charlie Crist, Tampa Bay gay royalty Mark & Carrie and Mary herself as they all let their hair down and celebrated the newest location.

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Uprisings: The most deplorable

By : Billy Manes
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What a dizzying two weeks of nonsense we’ve witnessed on the presidential campaign trail. So dizzying, in fact, that one candidate – she of a thousand prefixes Hillary Clinton – became TMZ phone-cam fodder when she wobbled in the hands of staffers on her way to a vehicle after a Sept. 11 tribute in the overbearing sun and overbearing endorphins of public appearances. The world gasped, as it does, when it saw the slight shifts of her head on television as she was politely escorted away. Surely that meant that she was unfit to be president. Surely she was chiming a death knell for all the world to hear. Trump for everyone!

And though, by most messaging available to the media, Trump didn’t do his typical headline buzzard routine on something so private as Clinton’s personal health (optics!), he was quick to make note of her absence in recovery from the diagnosed bout of pneumonia from which she was suffering. That came mostly because of Clinton’s savage – but true – attack on Trump supporters as “deplorables.” Show me a Trump supporter who doesn’t have airs of privilege wrapped up in smug smile of “I’ve got mine” or some other prosperity gospel, and I’ll show you a bigot with a confederate flag living right down the road with a Trump sign in his yard.

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Uprisings: Diminishing returns

By : Billy Manes
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Though anyone who is taking the time to read this missive understands that this writer’s cynicism weighs more than two heavy bricks in two large pockets, the fact that the Aug. 30 primary only drew a 20 percent crowd in Orange County – and a similar number in Pinellas County – is a bit of a kick in the teeth. In some ways, I’ll take the blame. I was asked by numerous voters who to vote for, but I didn’t have the time to just throw numbers and precincts in their faces. I also didn’t, perhaps, do my due diligence in making that clear.

In a primary, in a gay paper, we don’t generally parse details. You’re with us, or you’re against us. We aren’t going to vote Republican, generally, so there’s that (sorry about your logs). The pols that have been with us were very clear in their messaging, and we likely profiled them in the past. The ones who are against us? Well, there aren’t enough ticks in a clock for us to deal with them at any reasonable length. So, on one hand, I’m issuing an apology. If any news source should be standing and screaming into the district-depths of individual primaries, it should be us, mine, the one that I edit. On the other hand, these are small towns and there are a lot of voices, many of which are familiar with my contact information, so I didn’t want to sink into the quicksand of political gamesmanship. In fact, because of social media, I did make some personal comments on personal pages, and I may have overstepped and come off as a dick.

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Rubio, Murphy win party Senate nominations; face-off in general election

By : Wire Report
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential aspirations and insistence that he was done with the Senate didn’t hurt him with GOP voters, now it’s time to see if the rest of Florida will be as forgiving as he seeks a second term.

Rubio easily won the Republican nomination to retain his seat and will be challenged by Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who defeated Congressman Alan Grayson in the Senate primary Aug. 30. It’s a race Democrats are targeting in an effort to regain a majority in the Senate, and their hope is that Rubio’s presidential ambitions have dulled the shine he had with Florida voters.

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Kevin McCarty, Florida’s Insurance Commissioner, resigns

By : Wire Report
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Tallahassee (AP) – Kevin McCarty, who helped guide Florida’s fragile insurance market in the wake of eight hurricanes a decade ago, is resigning as the state’s insurance commissioner.

During his 13-year tenure, McCarty dealt with the near collapse of the state’s homeowners insurance market, major changes in health insurance and contentious legislative battles over auto insurance, medical malpractice and the state-created Citizens Property Insurance.

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Uprisings: October 22 – November 5

By : Billy Manes
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“What a dump!” is effectively the only thought that comes to mind when we think of this year’s municipal election follies and their requisite dusty bad apples. To be clear, it’s not the city itself that we’re baffled by – with all its tall buildings lining one downtown street, the millions in bonds holding them up, the Amway naming rights straight out of the pyramids (or their schemes), the traffic on I-4, the blight on Colonial Drive. We’ve actually grown accustomed to the quirks off our little burg that is called the City Beautiful. Beauty, ladies and gentlemen, is subjective. Also, we like the people here, generally, and, were Central Florida not America’s veritable prison colony (mate!) of underpaid jobs and overhyped “attractions,” we’re not certain what we would do. Wherefore the thrill-rides?

But politics in Orlando – which is holding its municipal pageant on Nov. 3, even though that means nobody will vote – have grown a bit sour in the past few weeks. You’ll note that our cover star Commissioner Patty Sheehan, queen of downtown’s core and longtime LGBT advocate, is trying to stay above the fray, but not everyone else is playing nice in the political sandbox. This column is comfortable endorsing Sheehan, not only because she’s a bit of a firebrand for LGBT causes, but because, even approaching her fifth term (perhaps especially approaching her fifth term), she knows how to get things done. Her opponents, Randy Ross and Aretha Olivarez, may make formidable opponents in the abstract, but in an election which will likely tick below the 15 percent margin in turnout, Sheehan’s reputation (which has been recently dried out and refinished) precedes her well. Ross is running without much of a discernible platform beyond “I don’t know!”, and Olivarez (a veteran and entrepreneur) is leaning a little too hard on the “veteran” platform for our liking, especially in a city election.

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Poe to show?: Politico reports that former state Democratic chair Bob Poe is considering a congressional run

By : Billy Manes
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29dd5d2Because political season is officially upon us, we shouldn’t feel surprised when politicos we know start popping up in news feeds as newborn contenders. Bob Poe, former chairman of the Florida Democratic Party and (more recently) fundraising friend of former Gov. Charlie Crist, is the latest to stick his wet finger in the wind to see if he’s going to throw his hat in the 10th Congressional District ring, according to Politico. We reached out to Poe, and he said that the notion of his candidacy is “premature,” though we all know that’s code for “independent polling.” A longtime champion of LGBT rights (along with husband Kenneth), Poe would clearly make some noise in a crowding field. He would also smile a lot. Poe likes to smile. From Marc Caputo at Politico:

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Uprisings: August 13 – 26

By : Billy Manes
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Somewhere in the annals of psychological academia exists a hidden chapter – an Easter egg of sorts – that describes the finely honed narcissism that allows the seemingly illegal cloud of hair and bravado, that misanthropy and machismo and money, that witch’s tick and spooky juice available to a figurehead named Donald Trump with which he has managed to control a news cycle yet again. You wouldn’t find that listing anywhere near its reasonable attribution – a footnote about nonsense that shouldn’t be paid attention to; the bad kid pouting in the back of the bus – as we already know that attention is being paid, and if there is a Republican Party bus, at least for the moment, he is the creepy guy driving it way up front.
Sure, it’s a low-hanging fruit expedition to go after Trump after his ostentatious appearance at the Aug. 6 Republican primary debate aired by Republican funhouse mirror Fox News. Why, even Fox is playing into the fallout, circling wagons around host and debate panelist Megyn Kelly, who Trump, in no uncertain terms, accused of menstruating, because that’s what makes women ask about why it is that you continually and publicly hate on women.

UpRising_MeganKeyllyRegardless, it’s Trump who walked away with all the headlines. He’s not backing down. All of our leaders are dumb. Only women bleed. Don’t discriminate against gays, but, “I am against gay marriage.”In some ways, the gay card was partially protected from the primetime Republican scrimmage – Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich actually went to a gay wedding recently and apparently had a good time, not that there’s everything wrong with that. The volume of applause, if applause in these scenarios is to be believed, suggested a turning point in the rickety conservative wheelhouse, base be damned (except that Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz all committed to reversing LGBT progress). There are, as they say, many rivers to cross, and the gay one has already been traversed by the U.S. Supreme Court (at least on the issue of nuptials), or so we are to believe in this particular spin cycle.

More concerning is the attitude toward women and their requisite rights. The one Republican woman in contention, Carly Fiorina, was forced to the kids’ table with Rick “Ronald Raven” Perry (and the rest of the lot) for a happy-hour pre-show debate that nobody watched (she later defended Kelly against Trump’s period-gate, if only for good press). Not surprisingly, much of the red meat being used to chum the noisy base of riled-up Fox fans teetered on the bravado of threatened men in suits. Why? Well, obviously because Hillary Clinton is waiting in the wings, and we all know how easy it is to get groups of people to scream obscenities about that woman.

But it was Trump who ultimately showed the true nature of the current conservative discourse (replete with reproductive choice buried in the code).

After Kelly brought up his “fat pig” remarks against Rosie O’Donnell and, well, an entire gender he doesn’t understand, Trump warned against politeness.
“I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness and, to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either,” he said.

This country doesn’t have time for you, your insolence, your blinders or your ill-gotten fortune, Mr. Trump. Step aside.

UpRising_MarcoRubioIt doesn’t take a political genius to recognize the balance beam that Sen. Marco Rubio is continually falling from on social issues as he tries to appease both the far right and the middling clueless on his trek to the White House. Rubio, you’ll recall, has always been an opponent of abortion, often citing his “two wrongs don’t make a right” playground mentality he learned in a second-grade sandbox. But following the severely anti-woman tone of last week’s televised Republican presidential debate, Rubio found himself crushed into a conundrum. You see, Rubio, who tried to make it clear that he believes that women should be forced to bear the children blindly offered them by the love of rapists and incestuous family members – it’s a child, people! Just read the billboards on the Turnpike – has a history of, gasp, supporting exceptions for those in need of abortions under duress. Side note: abortions are legal, so your support is weak, Marco Polo. Rubio didn’t come out anymore decisive than he went into this after a post-debate CNN grilling, but nothing about this man is certain. Wild cards are fun.
UpRising_RickScottIf you were on the proper email feed – or actually allowed into the public records and emails that Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was clearly concealing from the public throughout the beginning of his administration – then maybe you would understand the bobbing and weaving that has come to characterize Florida’s elected Republicans over the past few years. At every turn, Scott and his cronies have attempted to hold themselves exempt from standard Sunshine Laws, because, well, they don’t want to admit that most deals are done off-card and beneath the board. Last week, Scott agreed to fork out $700,000 in order to settle no less than seven public records disputes brought about by Tallahassee attorney and Scott arch-nemesis Steven R. Andrews. So, basically, you’ll be paying that $700k through various agencies that exist off your tax dollars, and there will be a rather large rug with untold deals swept beneath it. Sunshine for everyone!
UpRising_AshMasonAck, we almost forgot to mention the other tangential Rubio connection to this week’s cascade of illegitimate hopefuls lining up at the public-figure trough! In a twist worthy of a bad soap opera, the Tampa Bay Times reports that former Rubio aide Ash Mason (of Pinellas County) is lining up for a potential run for Congress, even though we’re still not quite sure what the boundaries look like after the redistricting fracas. Mason has “history” with frat-house inflatable pool Will Weatherford, the former Republican House Speaker from Wesley Chapel, and, in a strange twist of fate, could be facing disgraced former Republican and failed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist. Don’t say Charlie Crist three times. Wait, did we just say Charlie Crist three times? Oh, no.