Different style, common goal between candidates

Published September 2, 2006

For Charles Gerdes, running for a seat in the state House is a little like fighting City Hall - or at least one well-financed piece of it.

Gerdes, a commercial litigator, is outraised and outspent 5-1 by opponent Rick Kriseman in the Democratic primary for House District 53.

Kriseman, a six-year St. Petersburg City Council member, has TV commercials. His Web site sells T-shirts, coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets and even a doggie T-shirt emblazoned with his green and white campaign logo. (The organic cotton T-shirt alone is $20.)

Gerdes has neighborhood association picnics. The only airwaves he has are the supporters who wave his signs in the air on street corners.

As of Friday, Kriseman had pulled in $121,731 in contributions and spent $112,041. Gerdes has raised $21,495 and spent $20,951.

The difference in their finances represents why Gerdes says he's running in the first place.

"The people's voice isn't being heard and the people's work isn't being done," Gerdes said.

For his part, Kriseman said his campaign machinery is evidence of his ability to get things done.

"I'm pragmatic. I get things accomplished. I'm able to work with the other side," Kriseman said.

The two men are running for the seat left vacant by Rep. Charlie Justice, who's termed out and is running for state Senate. District 53 is considered a safe seat for Democrats.

The race between Kriseman and Gerdes has been relatively polite.

Gerdes says he's running for a House seat, not against Kriseman.

"If the people choose Rick, then I'll be one of his supporters and if the choose me, I'd hope he'd reciprocate," Gerdes said.

Kriseman said Gerdes can count on it.