Best Of 2016

Best race that would be a snoozefest in a not-Trump year

A moderate Republican defending his seat against a moderate Democrat? Boring! It reminds us of that Simpsons episode: “Abortions for all!” (Crowd boos.) “Very well, no abortions for anyone!” (Crowd boos.) “Hmm.  Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!” (Crowd cheers wildly.) But this year, we have former Governor Charlie Crist challenging incumbent Congressman David Jolly (R-Indian Shores) for the Pinellas seat. The district now includes more Democrats (hence Crist’s decision to run — third time’s a charm?), though some polling suggests it’s close. Both are likable, yet neither is liked by the extreme wings of their parties. Jolly had been running for U.S. Senate, but pivoted to make way for Rubio’s descent from his presidential cloud. Not that his deference won Jolly any favor with his party; they’re still pissed off that he called them out for being a bunch of greedy momos. —KB

People, Places & Politics: The who, the where and the WTF?!

People, Places & Politics

The who, the where and the WTF?!

Best antidote to campaign bullshit

Perhaps the most convincing indication that PolitiFact is doing a good job (besides that Pulitzer) is the fact that their fair-minded analyses of candidate-speak have riled up partisans on both sides of this season’s bitter political divide. Maybe we’re living in a post-fact world — those multiple Pants On Fire! judgments against Trump don’t seem to matter a whit to his supporters — but at a time when rumors, lies and conspiracy theories dominate the national conversation, the sober-sided truth-tellers at PolitiFact provide a much-needed dose of sanity. —David Warner


Runners up:  Pass-a-Grille, St. Pete Beach.

wikimedia commons

Runners up: Hogan vs. Gawker, wrong-way drivers.

Best capitalism/history love story

Often, the first thing to go when “progress” comes to town are local historic landmarks. Often, they don’t go away without a fight from local preservationists who argue that the sense of place these old, iconic structures create is a much better economic development tool than a spattering of condos. But former cigar industry hub Ybor City is melding the two ideas, and investors are instead refurbishing old buildings, turning them into apartments and hotels for the growing number of people who live elsewhere but work in Ybor. —KB

Best city councilperson

If you’re young when you ascend to elected office, your inclination may be to play ball so that you don’t make any enemies as you seek to hold onto your seat and, you hope, climb the ladder. Maniscalco instead seems to vote in ways that reflect his district as well as his generation. As a member of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Board, he was the sole dissenting vote against imposing prohibitive rules against ride-sharing services. He also opposed the unpopular TBX tollway project. If he had lost his 2015 runoff election to Jackie Toledo (who is now running for State Rep. Dana Young’s soon-to-be former seat), the conversations at the dais would likely be very, very different. Plus, he digs Bowie, and conversing with him about music is a rare pleasure for reporters who tend to feel like a round peg in a square hole at gatherings of local politicos. —KB

Runners up: Tampa, Dunedin.
Best clusterf*ck
Flickr user DonkeyHotey

Want to succeed at least somewhat as one of two major political parties? Rule #1: Cultivate a deep bench of talented candidates and operatives. Rule #2: Try not to put those people in the same races, where they’ll expend precious resources cannibalizing one another. Can we guess which of these rules Tampa Bay Democrats aren’t quite getting? Sure, some of their problems stem from gerrymandering and candidates preferring to run for open seats in districts Dems can actually win, but when you have 18 talented Democrats in six bloody primaries, it costs money and confuses voters… though it’s fun for us political reporters. —KB


Runners up: Ferg's Sports Bar, Oxford Exchange.


Runners up: Hillsborough, Pasco.