Although with a 26 point percentage gap separating Bob Buckhorn and Rose Ferlita in Tuesday's Tampa mayoral election, no one single factor could truly be the difference, outgoing Mayor Pam Iorio's endorsement of Buckhorn on March 11 - after previously declaring that she would do no such thing - has been considered a significant "game-changer." Pardon the cliche, but that's the words that Buckhorn used to describe the endorsement, and on this issue, who are we to argue?
Rose Ferlita is still sore about it, as she told reporters Tuesday night as the final votes were tallied.
But Iorio, who surprised some observers weeks ago when she uncharacteristically blasted Governor Rick Scott after he rejected the federal government's billions for a Tampa to Orlando high speed rail route, proudly spoke out for her endorsement today of Buckhorn two weeks ago.
We thought it was so interesting that we're including all of her remarks when CL popped the question on Wednesday about her endorsement:
"I think if Bob had only won by a couple of hundred votes, it might have been a factor, but his margin of victory was so vast that I find it very hard to believe that my endorsement was the pivotal factor when theres that much of a vote differential. Bob won because he worked hard, he walked 25,000 homes, he not only garnered my endorsement, but the endorsement of every single newspaper and most of the other candidates who ran for mayor, and because he built a big tent, and thats why he won, however I would like to say that regarding the endorsement, and Im glad I did; I would do it over again.
I think weve become very accustomed to negative campaigning, weve come to accept it. Ive never accepted it..Ive ran for office 7 times, I dont think I ever mentioned my opponent in any of my races, and I care so much about this city, I dont want it to become like the rest of the political world. Where negative politics is considered just the norm, and we all accept it. The mayors race is something special and something different. Youre setting a tone for the community and that tone is very important and its important that it always be positive and forward thinking and respectful of your opponents ..imagine if the race had been won based on negative campaigning? If that had been the case, then the message would have gone out to all people running for mayor in the future that thats how you win. Instead the opposite message is being sent today. Thats not how you win, and I do feel quite strongly about that. I may be a solitary voice in the political world when it comes to that, but I have always believed that you put yourself out there in a positive way, and that there is no need to knock down your opponent in any fashion at all. And so I think Bob really ran a good campaign, and Ive proud of the campaign that he ran, and Im proud that I endorsed him."
WTSP 10 Connects Preston Rudie then mentioned that Ferlita complained Tuesday night that Iorio had told her she wouldn't endorse. Is that what you told her, he asked?
I told all of you that. Its no mystery that I wanted to remain neutral, so this is nothing new. Ive said to probably every single person here. I wanted to remain neutral in the mayors race. But when I saw the race going in a direction that I thought was going to set a negative tone for this city that I care so much about, I said Im not going to stand on the sidelines' because you know what? When you stand on the sidelines you dont speak up, youre condoning that. And Ive never been like that, I speak up. Whether its high speed rail, whether its negative campaigning, if its something to me thats very important that speaks to the public and how the public perceives politics and public service, Im going to say something about it, and I always will."