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St. Pete mayor's race gets political; Charlie Crist endorses Rick Kriseman

6:47 PM, Oct 7, 2013   |    comments
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Rick Kriseman speaks at a campaign rally, with former Gov. Charlie Crist at his side.
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St. Petersburg, FL -- Democrat and potential 2014 gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist endorsed Rick Kriseman for St. Petersburg Mayor on Monday.

"I'm here to support my friend, I'm not here to run anybody down," Crist said while making his endorsement at the Wildwood Recreation Center.

"(Kriseman) cares about the people of St. Petersburg. This is important to me. This is my hometown. I know he will be a great Mayor," Crist added.

Crist's announcement comes just days after Republican Governor Rick Scott endorsed incumbent Mayor Bill Foster, making next month's St. Pete election a possible early preview of the 2014 Governor's race. Something not lost on Foster.

"That's why the former Governor came out today, it's more about his race for Governor in 2014 than it is the mayor's race," Foster said.

"Look, it's two career politicians from the same party make nice,"

Crist however, was quick to downplay Foster's comments.

"He has a right to believe whatever he wants, but it's about Rick Kriseman and it's about St. Petersburg," the former Governor said.

Either way, the race between Foster and Kriseman has become increasingly political in recent weeks even though the office both men are seeking is supposed to be non-partisan.  Tampa Bay Times Political Editor Adam Smith say that's largely because mayoral posts like the one in St. Petersburg are seen as a spring board to other statewide positions.

"I think a lot of people view the mayors as the future governors of this state and so both parties want to build that bench and it's the only bench the democrats have at this point so you're going to see more and more of this thing," Smith said.

Of course, the endorsement both Foster and Kriseman would like is the one from former Mayor Rick Baker. Still hugely popular in St. Petersburg, the Republican indicated on Monday he might eventually weigh-in on the race.

"I may. I will decide that soon," Baker said.

But who he might support is something he's not willing to say just yet.

"To me, it's always what's best for the city."

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