Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Future of Tampa Bay Politics...

Well, it’s time to look ahead.

Not to November 4, 2008, but to November 3, 2010.

Florida is looking pretty exciting this year – Obama is pulling ahead, but whatever juice McCain has left will keep this race close in the Sunshine State and right here in the Tampa Bay area.

2006 was an exciting year, politically. For Democrats, it was exhilarating, and for Republicans it was disenheartening.

Nationally, we didn’t see much of interest happen in Florida. Yes there was that little incident with Mark Foley and Tim Mahoney narrowly winning that seat and yes the whole missing votes debacle in the Buchanan-Jennings race in the 13th Congressional District. But what I mean is that we didn’t see the kind of tidal wave that occurred in the rest of the country.

But some interesting things did happen – each of which will have a major impact on the 2010 elections.

In the state senate, Democrats picked up one seat, but also lost one seat. The seat they lost belonged to gubernatorial candidate Rod Smith of Gainesville. The seat they won was right here in Pinellas County and was won by St. Pete’s own Charlie Justice.

In an expensive race that saw Republican Kim Berfield’s campaign turn more than a little nasty, the likeable and hard working Justice won the open state senate seat.

Immediately after winning, he became a topic of interest for folks making their fantasy political team picks as a possible Democratic challenger to Congressman Bill Young.

Assuming Young survives this year’s challenge from Dunedin Mayor Bob Hackworth, Justice will be talked about again. But whether or not he runs, his state senate seat is likely to be targeted by the GOP and St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker will be looking for his next job. If Young retires, Baker immediately becomes the favorite to be the GOP nominee for the seat. If Young does not retire… well, Baker may choose to go for Justice’s state senate seat – whether or not Justice runs for Congress.

Later this week, we will take at look at... the Secretary of Agriculture?


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