U.S. Senator Bill Nelson today endorsed fellow Democrat Rick Kriseman in the St. Petersburg mayor’s race.
“Rick Kriseman is a strong leader who will bring people together to find solutions for the challenges facing St Petersburg,” Nelson said in a statement. “As mayor, Rick will do well for St Petersburg.”
Kriseman, a former Democratic state lawmaker and City Council member, has surged in recent polls ahead of Tuesday’s primary election, pulling to within 1 percentage point of incumbent Bill Foster in the most recent survey conducted this week by StPetePolls. He and Foster seem likely to face each other in the Nov. 5 general election. That means former councilwoman Kathleen Ford, an early frontrunner in the race, would come up short in her third bid for mayor.
“I am honored to have Sen. Nelson’s confidence and endorsement in this race,” Kriseman said in a statement. “Sen. Nelson knows firsthand the need for pragmatic leadership and bipartisan consensus-building. As mayor of St. Petersburg, I will bring the people of this great city together to create jobs, improve our schools and strengthen our neighborhoods.”
Nelson’s endorsement comes a day after Kriseman picked up a key endorsement from longtime City Councilwoman Leslie Curran, who blasted Foster’s leadership as mayor. Council members Charlie Gerdes and Steve Kornell have also backed Kriseman.
No City Council members have endorsed Foster, but he has the backing of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and the Pinellas Realtor Organization.