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The Buzz: St. Pete mayoral candidate gets endorsements

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, right, is in the race for re-election, but his campaign has yet to start. He says he hasn’t had time to raise money or knock on doors. He's shown here with former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan in August 2012.

Times file (2012)

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, right, is in the race for re-election, but his campaign has yet to start. He says he hasn’t had time to raise money or knock on doors. He's shown here with former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan in August 2012.

Collecting endorsements and poll numbers

St. Petersburg mayoral hopeful Rick Kriseman is collecting endorsements.

The former council member and state legislator announced that a bipartisan group of politicians has lined up behind him.

Democrats include former chief financial officer Alex Sink and Largo Mayor Pat Gerard. Republicans include former state Sen. Paula Dockery and Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala.

It's unclear how much Dockery's endorsement will help. She represented voters in Lakeland.

The backslapping and praising might look good in news releases and on Facebook and Twitter, but the real endorsements come when voters cast ballots in the Aug. 27 primary.

Mayor Bill Foster is in the race, but his campaign hasn't really started. He says he spends 12 hours a day running the city and hasn't had time to raise money or knock on doors.

He says he isn't concerned with poll numbers but plans to ramp up the campaign next month.

Approval ratings continue to drop for Foster and the City Council, according to St.PetePolls.org, run by local red-light camera critic Matt Florell.

Of 1,319 voters polled last week, 52 percent do not like Foster's performance. And 59 percent of people who responded to the automated telephone survey said they aren't pleased with the council.

Foster's rating is at its lowest since the local pollster starting surveying voters in November 2011.

The poll also asked voters who they would pick in a hypothetical race for mayor.

Foster snagged 30 percent, council member Leslie Curran followed with 18 percent, trailed by Kriseman with 16 percent and then council member Jeff Danner with 6 percent. Neither Danner nor Curran has said they will make a mayoral bid.

The elephant in the room is the 30 percent of undecided voters.

Sir Bill Foster

Orville Redenbacher, Mickey Mouse and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster all have something in common. It's not the love of butter, big ears or hot air.

All three have been knighted by the Royal Rosarians, the official greeters and goodwill ambassadors of Portland, Ore. Others receiving earlier honors include Hank Aaron, Hopalong Cassidy, famous astronauts and military generals.

Foster's knighting came Wednesday when the Rosarians planted a rose bush in his honor at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. Foster then declared it the Royal Rosarian Day in the Sunshine City.

Boasting his new honor, Foster said: "You can call me sir."

Term limits trickle down

Pinellas County Commission Chairman Ken Welch has said many times over that he believes he and four other commissioners will win their legal battle over term limits. But lately his actions suggest he has more than a few nagging doubts.

Last month, he applied for a job running the Juvenile Welfare Board, saying the pending lawsuit was causing too much uncertainty. And this month he has resigned from his position as president-elect of the Florida Association of Counties, again, citing the lawsuit.

"There is an ongoing court case alleging that myself and some fellow commissioners are violating term limits in Pinellas," he wrote. "While I do not believe this to be the case, the outcome of this litigation — as with any judicial proceeding — is uncertain. Given that uncertainty, it is best that I step down, and not subject the organization to the possible resignation of its President …"

A ruling isn't coming anytime soon — the next court hearing is scheduled for May.

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow @markpuente on Twitter. Anna M. Phillips can be reached at aphillips@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779.

The Buzz: St. Pete mayoral candidate gets endorsements 03/23/13 [Last modified: Saturday, March 23, 2013 11:46am]
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