Miller bests Redner

03/28/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

One of the most interesting local races in Tampa ended last night with Gwen Miller, the first Black City Council woman to win throughout the city, being re-elected to her District 1 seat against businessman Joe Redner.

 

In the other election in Tampa, in the North Tampa District 7 seat, hair salon owner Joseph Caetano defeated real estate agent Frank Margarella.

 

But back to the race that had captured national attention.  Last night Redner said he had no regrets about how he had run his campaign (roll tape#1 o.q.”do the same thing”)

 

After coming in a suprising 2nd place in the general election to Miller earlier in the month and going into the run-off, Redner made two comments that analysts say doomed any chance he had of winning.  One was a comment during a debate that he would offer free admission to his nude dance club, the Mons Venue, with an “I voted” sticker.  The other comment was when Redner said “I’m blacker than she is”.  Redner said he meant to indicate that he would do more for the poor, but the damage was done.

 

USF Political Science Professor Susan McManus (roll tape#2 o.q.”with them”

 

Supporters say part of Redner’s charm is that he doesn’t speak like a politician.  He maintained that stance after the results came in last night when he was asked if he would call Gwen Miller and congragulate her on her victory (roll tape#3 o.q.”do a good job”)

 

Few people at Redner’s party at his headquarters in West Tampa Tuesday night were ready to congragulate Gwen Miller.  Longtime Tampa public affairs television how Syl Farrell said that he doesn’t believe Miller will respond to what some people called her wake up call (roll tape#4 o.q.”more than she did”)

 

Les would be Miller’s husband and campaign manager, former Tampa area State Senator Les Miller.  Miller, who finished 2nd to Kathy Castor last fall in a bid to succeed Jim Davis in Congress, had told the St. Petersburg Times a day after the general election 3 weeks ago that the Miller Team would not discuss Redner’s background, either as the owner of a world famous nude dance club, or his previous arrests for drug possession.

 

But Team Miller changed their philosophy last week, saying the “I’m Blacker than she is” remark allowed them in good consciouns to remind them of Redner’s background.  Joe Redner said he was prepared for negative attacks (roll tape#4 o.q.” was good for them”)

 

In between the general election and the run-off, both local daily newspapers reported extensively on this race, including favorable profiles of idiosyncratic Redner.  WMNF asked him what he thought of the coverage (roll tape#5 o.q.”in the election”)

 

Kelly Benjamin was Joe Redner’s Campaign Manager for his unsuccessful run for Hillsborough County Commission last year.  Redner hired him again to help in the run-off election .  He said the race could have been closer if Joe Redner had not made his controversial remarks (roll tape#6 o.q.”  the past couple of weeks”)

      

This was Joe Redner’s 7th run for office – all unsuccessful.  But supporters say his  2 races within the last year have been his best efforts to date.  USF Political Science Professor Susan McManus says the electoral stars need to be perfectly lined up for him to be successful (roll tape#7 o.q.”city wide race”)

 

For Tampa progressives, the loss is disappointing.  But Kelly Benjamin, who ran and lost for a City Council bid in 2003, says things are still looking up in Tampa (roll tape#8 o.q.”within the city of Tampa”)

 

The Mayor and the new City Council will be inaugurated into office this Sunday.

       

    

 

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