Tampa Candidate Forums Set in Forest Hills, Tampa Palms
The Forest Hills Neighborhood Association is hosting a forum for candidates on February 13th at 7 p.m. at the Forest Hills Recreation Center, 924 W 109th Ave. Politically, Forest Hills is the biggest plum in the 7th Council District because of its above average turnout (37% in the last city election - good numbers for an spring election in an odd numbered year). The candidates for mayor, district 7 and the two contested at-large council races have been invited and ABC affiliate reporter Don Germaise will moderate.
The New Tampa Community Council (also in CD 7) is hosting its own forum on February 15th at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in the Highwoods Preserve, 8310 Galbraith. New Tampa does not have the turnout seen in Forest Hills, but still expect a good turnout from the candidates themselves at the forum. No word yet on who will be moderating.
As far the election itself goes, expect Iorio to more or less cruise to re-election. The real excitement is around the District 1 at-large seat held by City Council Chairwoman Gwen Miller (wife of former state senator and 2006 congressional candidate, Les Miller).
Miller has raised only $33,505 and had only $25,000 cash on hand as of the January 31st filing. Six candidates are running for the seat, including perennial candidate and strip club mogul Joe Redner.
Granted, Miller has still raised almost twice that of her nearest competitor in the money race (Julie Jenkins has raised $17,059), but it's still a weak showing for an incumbent. She's still on track to win based on name recognition, but she's showing herself to be vulnerable to a well funded opponent (Redner has loaned his campaign $5,000, but it's anybody's guess how much it would cost to overcome his reputation as Tampa's liberal enfant terrible - though it should be noted that Redner won the Tampa precincts in his run for the County Commission last year).
In Council District 2, also at large, Mary Mulhern is running for the seat vacated by Rose Ferlita - who defeated Mulhern in a race for Hillsborough County Supervisor last year. While she might have hoped that name recognition from her race would help her, it doesn't look good. Mulhern has raised less than $10,000 (most of which was raised at a single event), while her opponent, Councilman Shawn Harrison (term limits have forced him to run for the at-large seat, rather than his current District 7 seat) has raised almost $150,000 and currently represents the aforementioned plum of Forest Hills.
Mulhern will be getting some high profile help in the form of Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. It is not clear what kind of event will be held with Granholm. For Mulhern's sake, one hopes it is a fundraiser.
Creative Loafing's Blurbex thinks Mulhern has a shot. This blogger is not so sure.