Fox-13 television reporter Warren Elly is also stepping away from his gig in local journalism, and on Saturday night at Tampa's Four Green Fields, over a hundred of his friends, colleagues and sometimes competitors paid tribute to him by gathering at the popular watering hole, celebrating his distinguished career, much of it spent covering the courts, crime, local politics and shuttle launches.
In addition to current and former Fox colleagues paying their respects (including Kathy Fountain, Russell Rhodes, Gloria Gomez and Tanya Arja, among others), reporters from the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times were also in tow.
Also making appearances were Tampa's last two mayors — Pam Iorio and Dick Greco, whom CL spent a few minutes catching up with for the first time since he fell 384 votes of qualifying for the runoff election against Rose Ferlita, in his bid for a fifth term as Tampa's chief executive on March 1.
It was a confluence of events that led to what many Tampa observers considered a surprise — Greco falling out of the money — as voters ultimately bought into Bob Buckhorn's inspirational cries for the city to move forward, and not look back to its comfortable way of doing business in the past.
Greco let his feelings be known about one potential candidate on the 2012 ballot, whom he made clear he wouldn't be for if he is on the ballot next year. That would be Republican Senatorial aspirant George LeMieux.
LeMieux is now running against Mike Haridopolos and Adam Hasner in the race to see which Republican will face Democrat Bill Nelson next year. The strongest qualifications LeMieux has in his race is his actual political experience — as he served the remaining nearly year-and-a-half tenure of the six-year term to which Mel Martinez was elected back in 2004.
LeMieux was selected by Governor Charlie Crist to fulfill the end of that term in Washington. The two were considered to be extremely close, yet when Crist, realizing that he could not beat Marco Rubio in the GOP primary last year, left the party and ran as an independent, LeMieux, looking at his own best interests of survival, dumped his allegiance to Crist and endorsed Rubio for the race.
That's something that he never should have done, Greco maintains. Greco was a strong supporter of Crist in his Senate bid — he introduced him on the day that the former governor officially went indie back in April of 2010 in St. Pete's Straub Park.
Though Greco is a registered Democrat, in every major election since 2000 (when I first started covering Tampa politics) he has strongly endorsed George W. Bush (twice) and John McCain for president, and as mentioned above, came out for the independent Crist for Senate last year. He said then and still feels now that the personal attacks in our politics have gone too far, and he says he's proud he never resorted to negative campaigning during this year's run for office. However, some of his own gaffes, as well as failing to articulate a plan for the next four years, undoubtedly hurt his chances.
So while he won't be serving in government ever again, he will always be one of Tampa's top celebrities/ambassadors, and his appearance at Elly's party added to the already very festive occasion.
Mayor Greco also boasted during our discussion that since the time he ran for city council in 1963, he never ever had to ask for money. Then again, he never ran for office anywhere outside Tampa.
Although it's nearly 3 1/2 long years before Rick Scott is up for re-election, some analysts are throwing up old names such as Alex Sink or even Charlie Crist running as the Democratic party's standard bearer. Locally, others think Pam Iorio would be an ideal choice, believing that she has plenty of time between now and 2014 to get her name and image out to the rest of the state of Florida.
Now out of office, Iorio is now actively looking to spread her message by giving speeches on leadership — a natural venue to spread the message about her views on public policy.