Rick Baker plays the GOP field

Baker is playing the field, so to speak, keeping himself unattached at this point in the Republican race for mayor. "I like Mitt, he's a good man, " the former Mayor said, leaning down into our tape recorder. But he said he had recently spent some quality time with Rick Perry.

"He's very into city issues. I'm very into city issues. Either one of them is better than what we've got now, " Baker said, obviously not a fan of our current president.

Speaking before Perry flamed out in the Presidency 5 straw poll on Saturday, we asked Baker about a couple of popular comparisons some political analysts have made about the Texas Governor.

One of those comparisons is to the Republican Party's patron saint, Ronald Reagan, who back in 1979 was considered by some pundits to be too extreme and unrefined to become president.

The other is to former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who electrified the Democratic party base back in 2003, playing to large audiences in liberal enclaves like Seattle, Austin and Oakland, who loved it when he said he was running on the "Democratic base of the Democratic Party."

But as we all remember, Dean bombed out in Iowa, and was never a factor against John Kerry in the Democratic primaries in 2004.

Naturally, Baker preferred the Reagan analogy in reference to Perry, saying, "I don’t agree that he’s not electable, I think frankly he would probably do better with the Hispanic voter than any of the other candidates in the race."

CL asked Baker if he thought Perry's stance on illegal immigration, a little less harsh than most of his Republican brethren, would wound him in the race for the nomination?

“I think the immigration issue is a tough issue," he replied "I think they’re all saying that we have to defend the border- that’s the most important thing. We’ve done a very poor job of doing that."

Continuing on, Baker said that he connected with Perry in that they both have had to run a government, and because Perry was Governor of Texas, he realizes that there are border issues with Latinos than the other candidates didn't have to contend with in their regions of the country.

Baker takes the status quo opinion on the issue of "securing the border" first. "If you don't do that, then ..let’s say you find a way of allowing for a path to citizenship.. if you find that without sealing the border, then in five years you have the same problem, and you’re essentially saying the rule of law doesn’t matter in America."

Baker said he probably wouldn't do what Perry did in offering lower tuition rates for those Latino undocumented high school students a decade ago, which is now becoming a political minefield for the Texas Governor.

Baker did concede that "I do think that you’re going to have real life solutions" in governing a state that resides right on the border that is probably different than being in another part of the country.

Cl bumped into former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker last Friday while at CPAC Florida in Orlando.

For those who might somehow remember this, Baker worked on Mitt Romney's unsuccessful presidential campaign in Florida in 2007-2008, serving as co-chair of his campaign in the Sunshine State.

So naturally he's working to help the former Massachusetts Governor again this time around, right?

Uh, not exactly.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.