St. Petersburg Times endorses an anti-evolution, anti-gay candidate for mayor (yes, it's Bill Foster)

As mayor, Foster would offer comforting continuity. He recognizes Baker's considerable efforts to improve public education and pledges to continue them. He would maintain the conservative approach to building city budgets, offering neither wild new spending plans nor drastic cutbacks but a methodical effort to make government more efficient. He has been measured and responsible on the campaign trail, avoiding the rashness of other candidates who have called for the quick removal of the police chief, the hiring of dozens of new police officers and the spending of city reserves on recurring expenses that would risk St. Petersburg's fiscal stability.

Yet Foster would chart his own course as mayor. He recognizes there is the public perception, at least, that police do not go after drugs and nonviolent crimes in Midtown as aggressively as they would in more affluent neighborhoods. He calls for the police to pay more attention to drugs, prostitution and burglary. He would shift police resources to where they are most needed, seek a gradual return to community policing, stress crime prevention and give Chief Chuck Harmon an opportunity to embrace his priorities.

As for Foster's right-wing bent? The Times explains it away:

At times, Foster has spoken in haste and escalated the rhetoric rather than cooling passions. We also have disagreed with his conservative social views, including those in his intemperate letter to the School Board last year promoting creationism. Those views have little to do with being mayor. Foster makes a convincing argument that he recognizes the weight his words and tone would carry if he is elected, and his campaign reflects that maturity. He has articulated a reassuring commitment to civil liberties and constitutional rights, and that would be the yard stick to measure his performance.

More on Bill Foster:

This week’s political podcast: an interview with Bill Foster

Bill Foster gets the Saint Petersblog 2.0 mayoral endorsement

Another police union endorses Bill Foster for St. Petersburg mayor

St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Bill Foster gets Taser’ed, bro [video]

The drumbeat that the St. Petersburg Times was considering an endorsement (errr, recommendation, as the Times will always let a candidate know its preferred term) of Bill Foster. On its surface, it seems ludicrous. After all, Foster is the same guy who wrote to the school board a few years back making a strong pitch against teaching Darwinian evolution alone in public schools, hoping it would mix in a bit of "intelligent design."

But the lack of an emerging alternative to Foster left the Times in the inexplicable position of endorsing an anti-gay rights, anti-evolution mayor of St. Petersburg. More to the point, however, the editorial board chooses a candidate based on who will play ball with it. Which candidate will kiss the ring over on 1st Avenue S? That's what gets you the recommendation. Disagree with the Times on a core concern at the paper — say, firing Police Chief Chuck Harmon, as Scott Wagman as vowed to do — and you are at a disadvantage, to say the least.

It is OK to disagree with the Times on social conservative issues, as long as you play your cards right, promise not to let those views play out in public policy at City Hall and generally keep your wingy-ness in the closet. After all, the Times' former editorial chief, Phil Gailey, was totally tight with Rick Baker, who was also a social conservative who refused to recognize gay pride parades or appear in them.

From its recommendation today:

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