Redner Jeopardizes Pole Position

To be sure, it’s vintage Joe Redner: that offer to waive the Mons Venus ($20) cover charge for those presenting an “I Voted” sticker. It injects, if nothing else, some humor into a local electoral process crying out for an infusion of something other than inertia and apathy.

But the upshot is that it could be counterproductive to Redner in his District 1 city council run-off with Gwen Miller. Arguably, the voting public doesn’t need further reminding of who the gadfly-candidate with the strip club is. The better strategy, seemingly, would be to max out on opportunities to juxtapose his candidacy with that of the incumbent Miller.

By some accounts, Redner already has the pole position, so to speak, in the race. He’s knowledgeable about key issues, including the environment, mass transit and growth paying for itself, and he has rational, consistent answers on property-tax cuts. He has toned down the establishment-bashing, civic-irritant attitude. He speaks well enough and has added a coat-and-tie ensemble for public forums.

In the first go-round, he proved he was formidable in politically catalytic South Tampa and a favorite in West Tampa. He also has the “what-the-hell” and the “shake up the establishment” votes that can come from anywhere. He’s a wealthy businessman who can – and will – pour more of his own money into radio and newspaper ads and direct mail pieces. He may be a six-time election loser, but the seventh could be the charm.

He certainly has the perfect political foil. A candidate who’s less than conversant on the issues and doesn’t speak well when she tries. A candidate who’s been getting by for years as the quiet lady of color that no one wants to be seen as beating up on.

Sure, the case can be made that Randy Barron or Julie Jenkins would have been the superior run-off candidate against Miller, but it’s Redner who happens to be the one in a position to expose this long-running conspiracy of silence.The political planets finally seem aligned. It may be Redner’s race to lose. As long as he doesn’t go out of his way to remind folks that he’s got this business that nobody, including consenting adults, wants in their neighborhood.

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