Prominent, heavily courted black pastor backs Rick Kriseman over Rick Baker for St. Pete Mayor
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has won the support of one of the city's most influential church leaders, the Rev. Louis Murphy, who says voters cannot ignore the direction state and national political and partisan priorities when picking local leaders.
"I do support Kriseman," the pastor of Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Church told the Tampa Bay Times today. "I believe that all politics start locally, and I believe we need to really look at what's happening in Tallahassee and Washington."
Kriseman is a prominent Democrat, running against former mayor Rick Baker, a prominent Republican. Though the race is officially non-partisan, Kriseman has sought to remind the voters in heavily Democratic St. Petersburg that Baker actively worked against Democratic candidates, and Baker said sought to downplay his party affiliation, even as top Republican activists and money raisers have donated much of his campaign funds.
Murphy, whose church hosted the first mayoral debate, has been courted by both sides. He told the Times that he doesn't buy the argument that party affiliation is irrelevant in a municipal election since state and national policies have a significant impact on the local community.
"Even though the mayor's race is not a partisan race, it has implications nationally and in Tallahassee," Murphy said.
Baker and Kriseman are the leading candidates in the Aug. 29 primary, along with Anthony Cates III, Paul "The Truth" Congemi, Theresa "Momma Tee" Lassiter, and Jesse Nevel. The ballot does not identify party affiliations.
If a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote he or she will be elected mayor. Otherwise, the top two vote recipients will face off again on Nov. 7.