If I’m the Rick Kriseman campaign, I’m doubling down on linking Rick Baker with Donald Trump. And then hoping that the Baker campaign doesn’t wise up and change its strategy of ignoring Trump and doubling down on sewage.
And if I’m the Kriseman campaign, I’m also hoping that the loud, off-putting Baker on display on primary night stays away from anger-management classes until the November general election. If not, it would be virtually impossible to resist those “Baker Act Rick” signs and bumper stickers. Hell, that picture of Baker shrieking like some alt-right cheerleader might surface anyhow.
Normally, a blatantly partisan approach in a nonpartisan race would be blatantly inappropriate. You don’t bring national politics into play in a mayor’s race. It’s about local issues. Many in the media have pointed this out. The Tampa Bay Times, in fact, called it “cynical and flat wrong.”
The Times, as we increasingly notice, has been wrong before. And the times, as we’re also acutely aware, are anything but normal. Would that they were.
Trump is the game-changer. His long, pre-Oval Office track record speaks inelegantly for itself. He’s pathologically loathsome, a moral cretin, ethically challenged and a swaggering misogynist. We’ve also come to learn that he is largely unread, temperamentally unhinged and an existential threat, nationally and globally. What’s not to dislike?
Trump transcends all politics-as-usual tenets and precedents.
If a candidate can’t formally disassociate himself from this president–even if there’s an aberrant chunk of the electorate still channeling him–it says something about that candidate’s character. If you can’t disavow the outrageous, the unethical, the immoral and the pathological, you don’t deserve to be the mayor of St. Petersburg, a city that deserves so much better.
Rick Baker should show some character, some class and some smarts. Especially if Barack Obama gets more involved. This is still a Democratic city–one with infrastructure, inclusion, schools, Midtown and Tropicana Field scenarios to prioritize. That should be the focus of this election–once the core issue of character has been settled. If, indeed, it already hasn’t been.