Times & Tribune differ in St. Pete mayoral endorsements

The conventional wisdom regarding our two daily newspapers in the Tampa Bay area is that the Times editorial board leans left and the Tribune is more conservative. Though that doesn't always bear out, it has this morning with the Times endorsing Rick Kriseman in the August 27 St. Pete mayoral election, while the Trib sticks with Bill Foster.

Left out in the cold is Democrat Kathleen Ford, who is locked in a battle with Kriseman to get the chance to oppose Foster in the general election, if you believe in the accuracy of recent polling.

The Times takes Ford to task for her breaking out the now infamous "Krispy Kreme" incident  last week (but not by name), writing "Her  temperament was on full display during last week's Tampa Bay Times/ Bay News 9 debate as she attacked Kriseman on petty issues that had nothing to do with policy."

And the Times editorial board, which has made it its mission to convince citizens to support the Lens pier design, criticizes her for her high-profile efforts in opposing the Michael Maltzan plan. The editorial cites her decision to name thousands of city voters as plaintiff's in a lawsuit over the pier referendum as evidence of her "poor judgement."

In their editorial the Trib eschews denigrating Ford and Kriseman in their somewhat less than full throated endorsement of the incumbent, other than to write in its second to last paragraph that "We are not convinced that his opponents offer a better alternative as mayor."

The Tribune devotes two paragraphs of praise for the 50-year-old Foster, referring specifically to the economic boom in downtown and his recent change in his position on allowing the Rays management to negotiate with Hillsborough County officials - perhaps not so surprising a statement coming from a Tampa-based business. But in fact the Times also credits Foster for his late conversion on the Rays.

But, the Trib admits, there is room for criticism:

The effort to replace The Pier turned into a debacle, and his efforts to right the ship with a new advisory group are not proving particularly effective. He needs to make sure the city charts a deliberate, open and clear path forward should voters reject the Lens on Aug. 27. The Midtown Sweetbay closure, a blow to the neighborhoods it served, took him by surprise. He was slow to recognize the Rays stadium impasse needs to be resolved.

In their endorsement of Kriseman, the Times editorial writer devotes five full paragraphs to Kriseman's biography and his policy positions. And in their concluding paragraph, they get down to what the August 27 primary is really all about:

Foster likely will be among the top two finishers in the primary and advance to the November general election. The challenge for voters is selecting an alternative who offers more than the status quo, and there is only one responsible choice.

This is the second major issue on the August 27 ballot in St. Pete where the two dailies oppose each other. As noted above, the Times has written countless editorials advocating that St. Petersburg residents vote no on the Lens question (which means supporting the new design), while the Trib says voters should stop the Lens (which means voting yes).

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