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Tampa Bay’s Real Political Winners & Losers

Tuesday’s slate of elections in Tampa Bay certainly provided a list of winners and losers and I’m not just talking about the candidates.

Tuesday’s slate of elections in Tampa Bay certainly provided a list of winners and losers and I’m not just talking about the candidates. Here is my list of the real winners and losers coming out of Tuesday’s elections.

Winners

Jeff Brandes -- Even though his underwriting of an effort to defeat Charlie Justice and Janet Long did not pay off and he did leave Republicans in a lurch by vacating his House seat so late in the game, few Tampa Bay Republicans have the upward trajectory of Brandes. He can literally write his own ticket.

Corcoran and Johnston -- The lobbying and political consulting firm had a blockbuster night with clients David Gee, Al Higginbotham, Jake Raburn and Dan Raulerson all coming out on top. Also, many of their local competitors, such as Southern Strategies Group's Shawn Foster had a mixed night. So in a case of addition by subtraction, 2012 was very good for C & J.

Charlie Crist -- The biggest winner coming out of Tuesday may be the former governor. He became President Obama's lead surrogate in Florida and in doing so is the frontrunner for ... well, whatever he wants. An ambassadorship? Secretary of the Interior? Democratic nominee for Governor in 2014?

Carrie Henriquez -- Such is the fickle nature of Tampa Bay politics that Bob Henriquez' better half was on the losing side of this column in 2010.  But now that her husband won his race for Hillsborough Property Appraiser and she played a key role in several winning State House races, Carrie is one of the biggest winners coming out of 2012.

Chris Latvala -- Forget about him winning races for Bob Gualtieri and Kathleen Peters, the Chris Latvala campaign for State House District 66, where Ed Hooper is term-limited begins shortly.

Ed Hooper -- It's not only that the Hooper was re-elected to a final term in the Florida House, he also saw Peter Nehr, his most likely opponent in 2014 for a seat on the County Commission, defeated.

Bob LaSala -- Pinellas County's chief administrator must be pinching himself this morning with the replacement of Bostock and Brickfield with Justice and Long.

Jack Latvala, the local political consultant -- Say what you will about Latvala's ambitions for the Senate Presidency, but his impact on local elections is as influential as ever. Among his winning clients: Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and State Representative Kathleen Peters.

Brock Mikosky -- It had been a rough start for Mikosky after he first hung out his own shingle during last year's municipal elections in Tampa. But the hard-charging consultant has now won his first legislative race, helping Ross Spano to victory in HD 59.

Pinellas County's needy children -- With Neil Brickfield and Nancy Bostock's removal from the County Commission, the fluoride will soon be turned back on, providing a base of dental care for the poor and disadvantaged.

St. Pete Polls -- The polling outfit now has a solid record of predicting election outcomes, including spot-on calls in House District 68 and 69 and the Pinellas County Commission.

Richard Corcoran -- He'd never say it, but the person who benefits most by Speaker Designate Chris Dorworth's apparent loss in HD 29 is the Speaker Designate next in line, namely Corcoran. There's already talk of Corcoran being asked to serve back to back terms as Speaker.

Ron Pierce -- The Tampa lobbyist saw his mentor and former boss returned to the Florida Senate. Few people are as keyed in to a the increasingly strong Hillsborough legislative delegation as Pierce. His services will be in high demand in 2013.

Franco Ripple -- The Democratic activist moved to Pinellas County to manage Dwight Dudley's race for House District 68. What a big risk. But what a big reward now that Dudley defeated Frank Farkas.

The Tampa Bay Times -- The region's paper of record has had a monster election cycle, from its coverage of the Republican National Convention to election results throughout the state. Locally, the Times saw its "special project" of defeating Republican County Commissioners Neil Brickfield and Nancy Bostock completed.

Greg Wilson -- In a Democratic year, the local Democratic consultant should do well, right? Sure, but knocking off two incumbent Republicans on the Pinellas County Commission ain't easy, but that's exactly what Wilson did.

Dana Young -- Once the State Representative from Tampa won re-election without opposition, Young could have rested on her laurels. Instead, the popular "rock star" of the Florida House very actively campaigned for dozens of her colleagues throughout the state. She organized massive literature drops and walks, all the while cheerleading via Twitter.

Mixed bag

Johnny Bardine and Shari Hazlett - Sure, sure, the Democratic duo "managed" Ken Welch's successful re-election campaign, but the low degree of difficulty in this race earns few style points from the judges. One could also argue that Bardine and Hazlett missed out on some of  the action happening in other successful Democratic campaigns.

Anthony Pedicini -- All in all, 2012 has not been the Italian Stallion's year, especially in competitive races, such as in House District 63 where Pedicini's client lost to a Democratic newcomer. But Pedicini had a lot of wins, too, such as Bill Galvano's in SD 26. Most important, Pedicini continues to demonstrate what kind of amazing family man he is by taking care of his clan during challenging times.

Chris Sprowls -- If there is anyone who is kicking himself this morning, it's Sprowls, who was persuaded to drop his primary challenge to Peter Nehr. Had Sprowls stayed in that race, he likely would have won and would have easily defeated Democrat Carl Zimmerman.  The upside for Sprowls is that he is now the clear favorite to challenge Z in 2014.

People who lost but I'll never call losers

Rick Baker -- The former St. Petersburg mayor's bags were packed for Washington D.C. were Mitt Romney to have won, but, alas, that is not the case.  Baker has had a tough presidential cycle with Romney losing and, before that, Herman Cain losing. Baker inexplicably endorsed Cain right before the flash-in-the-pan melted down. Still, Baker's brand of Republicanism is the future of the GOP.

Will Weatherford -- Representative Shawn Harrison and Peter Nehr's unseatings and Frank Farkas' defeat in HD 68 began with Weatherford's fair, perhaps too generous, reapportionment of the Florida House's legislative districts.

Losers

Jay Beyrouti, Neil Brickfield and Tony DiMatteo -- My three arch-Republican friends have been as responsible as anyone for building a winning GOP coalition that has dominated Pinellas politics for over a decade. But now Brickfield is out of office, DiMatteo is no longer State Committeeman and Beyrouti's term as party chair appears to be coming to an end.

Deborah Clark - The Pinellas Supervisor of Elections may be the biggest loser of them all. Her office is responsible for one embarrassment after another with the coup de grace being 12,000 robocalls to voters informing them they could turn in their ballots on Wednesday. Clark's job performance has been so bad that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn tweeted on Tuesday that she should be fired.

Barry Edwards -- The controversial mad scientist of local politics had two consistent meal tickets before Tuesday night -- Reps. Peter Nehr and Darryl Rouson. With Nehr's stunning defeat, Edwards just had one of his legs knocked from under him. Perhaps if Nehr did not have so many disparate chefs in the kitchen, he could have hung on for a win.

Jessica Ehrlich -- The Democratic challenger to Bill Young could have run a nice race, lost by a decent margin and set herself up for a successful run for another office or, maybe, Young's seat. Instead, Ehrlich's reputation is in tatters after the political newcomer ran an erratic, negative campaign, which included taking on this blogger.

Jack Hebert -- When does my former boss at The Mallard Group retire from campaign consulting for good? After quarterbacking Frank Farkas' very negative, losing campaign for HD 68, the answer to that may come sooner rather than later.

Chris Ingram -- How does this guy have a gig on Bay News 9? He has become the Dick Morris of Tampa Bay politics. Among Ingram's predictions: "It’s going to be a long night." ... "Lawyers are going to be involved no matter what, and that means a lot of nonsense." ... "My crystal ball says Mitt Romney will win the popular vote with 50 percent of the vote to Obama’s 49 percent, with 1 percent going to other candidates. In the tally that matters, Obama will receive 253 votes and Mitt Romney will win 285  — 15 more than the required 270."

Norm Roche -- The odd man out on the County Commission was not on the ballot last night, but he will be in 2014 and he is already in the crosshairs of several possible challengers. The reality is that Roche cost Brickfield and Bostock their seats by his changing the complexion of the once-moderate commission.

Josh Shulman -- It's hard to lose two elections in one calendar year, but that's what Shulman has accomplished after running a decidedly negative campaign for the Florida House that was so bad I would not be surprised to see a 'For Sale' sign outside of his home.

Art Wood -- The Hillsborough County GOP chair failed to deliver what was described as Mitt Romney's most important county in the country for him to win. Republicans also lost in races for Property Appraiser and Supervisor of Elections. Is Hillsborough about to trend blue?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

David Conkle November 09, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Hey Peter, what about those of us in Safety Harbor, who are now represented by Republican, John Grant, the kid from Carrolwood? Don't know him and he is far removed from Safety Harbor and the issues or needs of us living in Pinellas County. Thanks, Will Weatherford --- move him to the loser side of the equation will ya?
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