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Political Junkie

Perkins says he'll take sides in runoff

By BILL COATS, JANET ZINK and BILL VARIAN
Published March 9, 2007


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Both New Tampa businessmen facing off in North Tampa's District 7 made pilgrimages Thursday to Forest Hills to kiss the ring of Charlie Perkins.

Perkins, 31, was narrowly squeezed out of contention Tuesday, despite winning 55 percent of the vote across the aging, diverse southern half of the district. Perkins shunned publicity but visited 1,000 voters there.

Perkins didn't campaign at all in New Tampa, the affluent northern half, where Joseph Caetano, 73, and Frank Margarella, 56, split the vote to make the runoff.

Early Thursday, Perkins vowed he would endorse neither man. But after meeting them, he said he would announce a choice in a day or so, based on which man devises the best plan for lowering crime in the area.

"I don't want to hear, "We're going to look into it,' " Perkins said.

Web gem

Check out the video of Mary Mulhern's victory party on youtube.com.

Among those featured on the video: Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena, who talks about the joy of working with women in government.

"What's most fun about women is the way we work. It's very eclectic. It's very nonlinear," she says.

Then there's Mitch Kates, Mulhern's campaign manager, who helped her beat incumbent Shawn Harrison despite a serious financial disadvantage. Kates did the same for Democratic state Sen. Charlie Justice.

"This race was a partisan race, and we knew it was. But as far as I'm concerned and as far as everyone in this room is concerned, this is the new Democratic team and the new Democratic Party," he shouts. "We know how to win, we know how to organize, we know how to spend our money wisely."

Fletcher backs Miller

Interim City Council member Chip Fletcher, who is interviewing for a post on the Florida Public Service Commission, said Thursday he's supporting council member Gwen Miller in her runoff against Joe Redner on March 27.

Fletcher said Miller has experience making hard decisions and deserves another four years.

Fletcher has had some impact during his brief time on the council. He pushed for barring sex offenders from moving into Tampa, and brought a resolution in support of a state bill that would limit off-coast oil drilling to the council.

He's an environmental lawyer, but also represented Christine Jennings in her 13th Congressional District recount.

Lose, and then win

There may be a new formula for winning a Tampa City Council seat: Lose a Hillsborough County Commission race first, but get your name out and develop campaign smarts in the process.

Think about it. Two newly elected City Council members unsuccessfully ran for County Commission seats in November. Tom Scott, who after 10 years on the commission lost a countywide race against Mark Sharpe. And Mulhern unsuccessfully competed against Rose Ferlita for the County Commission before knocking off Harrison Tuesday.

Four years ago, John Dingfelder ascended to the City Council after failing in a bid for County Commission against Kathy Castor.

So if strip club owner Redner upsets incumbent Miller in the March 27 runoff for a citywide council seat, that would make it four.

Compiled by Bill Coats, Janet Zink and Bill Varian.

[Last modified March 9, 2007, 06:30:03]


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