'America's Mayor' skips a local one

Published April 8, 2007

"America's Mayor" snubbed St. Petersburg last week. Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani had a host of local elected officials at his side at St. Petersburg High Wednesday, but not the local Republican mayor. The Giuliani campaign even asked U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, to speak, and she's a Mitt Romney supporter.

So where was Mayor Rick Baker?

Wondering whether his invitation was lost in the mail.

"I would have gone to Giuliani's event, but I wasn't invited when he came to town," Baker said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9. Baker, also a Romney supporter, said he didn't want to show up uninvited.

The interview, touching on Baker's work on a state growth management commission and on property tax reform, airs at 11 a.m. on Bay News 9. Later it can be seen on Channel 342 (Bay News 9 on demand).

Crist and Obama

Most politicos suspect Gov. Charlie Crist is probably going to endorse John McCain for president, but Crist isn't giving any hints.

When the St. Petersburg Times editorial board last week tried to pin him down, the Republican governor brought up a surprising name.

"I'm fascinated by Barack Obama. I did not get to meet him (recently in Tallahassee), but I think he offers a breath of fresh air. ... He's quite admirable, and I like the way he comports himself. He's a gentleman. He doesn't beat on people."

Novak bashes Crist

Speaking of Crist, syndicated columnist Robert Novak's newest column includes some harsh words about the new governor:

"Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, the only new Republican governor elected by a major state in 2006, is a major disappointment to party leaders in the state," he writes.

He quotes an anonymous "key Florida Republican" saying: "Charlie has succeeded in just three months in getting rid of just about everything Jeb Bush accomplished," and has abandoned Bush's conservative reforms, particularly in education.

Rudy's friends

Here's the full list of Tampa Bay politicos throwing their endorsements to Giuliani last week: state Sens. Dennis Jones and Mike Fasano; Sheriff Jim Coats; state Reps. Peter Nehr and Rich Glorioso; Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni; Pinellas County Tax Collector Diane Nelson; former state Rep. Leslie Waters; former state Sen. Curt Kiser; Safety Harbor Mayor Andy Steingold; Belleair Bluffs Mayor Chris Arbutine; Oldsmar Mayor Jim Ronecker; St. Pete Beach Vice Mayor Mike Finnerty; Tarpon Springs Mayor Beverley Billiris; former Reddington Shores Mayor J.J. Beyrouti; Safety Harbor Commissioners James McCormick and Joe Ayoub; Margie Milford, Crist campaign chairwoman for Pinellas County; Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board member John Milford; Anthony Rizzo, vice president of Pinellas County Veterans Liaison Council; Frank Harrison, Florida State University Board of Governors member; University of South Florida student body president Barclay Harles; and county GOP vice chairman Neil Brickfield.

Mitt's friends

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney also announced some more Tampa Bay supporters last week: St. Petersburg council member Bill Foster, Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard, Pasco County Commissioner Ann Hildebrand and Hernando County Commissioner David Russell Jr.

Gallagher's secret out

We now know why former Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher has been sporting a beard recently. He was spotted at North Florida Baptist Church in Tallahassee playing one of the disciples in the Passion Play. And, no, you Charlie Crist wags, it wasn't Judas. We hear he played the apostle Andrew.

Adam C. Smith contributed to this week's Buzz. For much more breaking political news check out blogs.tampabay.com/buzz.