By Jim Bleyer
You would have thought Guido Maniscalco won his Tampa City Council seat in 2015 by a landslide. He eked by perennial candidate Jackie Toledo by 149 votes.
In less than a year, Maniscalco will be asking voters to give him a second four-year term and it will be a far, far tougher sell.
Three years ago, as a political neophyte, the former Republican cobbled together a coalition of progressives, Latinos, people of color, and Millennials to buttress a hard-won victory. Those same groups plus the middle class of all political persuasions and colors despise the potential toxic candidacy of Trumpite David Straz, the billionaire elitist exploring a run for Tampa mayor.
This surely didn’t endear Maniscalco to his base or any voter not residing in the tony south side which is not even in his district:
Capin, who terms out on the council, heads Straz’ exploratory committee, and has no elective political future. Presumably she would be an inportant player in a Straz administration which has less chance of materializing than Narnia. As for Reddick, who also terms out, take a guess.
An interesting side note to that spaghetti dinner: excluding cooks, servers, and valets, about 150 people attended. Other media entities that are supporting Straz inflated the number to 300 in their reports. It was the caviar and champagne set meets greedy political operatives who are feeding hope to a hopeless egotist.
Straz also likes to refer to himself as “ambassador” and is getting poor political advice for trying to leverage a ceremonial title given to him by a foreign country. His hero Trump would approve.
Then there is this weak sauce served up by Maniscalco’s aide Carrie Henriquez: The eighth paragraph of a political column in a marginalized media entity buries Maniscalco’s claim that his co-chairing of a campaign fundraiser (“contributions to the PAC are welcome”) for Straz does not constitute an endorsement.
Besides the fact that the quote is basically an equivocal non-statement, I don’t know anyone who read it. Those who supported Maniscalco in his first campaign are livid. One prominent supporter has reached out to the wayward councilman but never obtained a response. That was weeks ago.
Maniscalco’s obligation to Straz supercedes promises of good government to those who manned phones and walked precincts for him.
He has chosen to build a Trumplike border wall instead of mending fences.