“Do not let anyone convince you that it was the political environment which doomed Rick Baker,” I said to a senior Rick Kriseman supporter last week during a post-election shop talk. “This diverts from the fact that Baker ran a truly horrible, and at the end, grotesque campaign.”

There have been some insightful analyses of St. Petersburg’s mayoral race.

Zack Sampson and Nathaniel Lash offer the straightforward conclusion that “Rick Kriseman bet on partisanship in the era of Donald Trump, … and won.” Adam Smith’s top takeaway is that the contest “effectively ended in August, when President Trump spoke of the ‘fine people’ who participated in a neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, where clashes led to a woman’s death.

However, Creative Loafing’s Kate Bradshaw argues that “to say anti-Trumpism is the sole reason Kriseman won oversimplifies the calculations thousands of voters make in their heads before casting a ballot — even if Democrats in Virginia and other places also had good reasons to celebrate Tuesday night.”

So … is Donald Trump to blame for Rick Baker’s loss or not?

Yes, but not because of what happened November 7th. I’d argue that had Baker employed five simple words after being first asked about whether he supported/voted for Trump, he could have won outright in August, making the argument about why he lost in November a moot point.

Because that’s still the top takeaway from Baker vs. Kriseman: that the former mayor had a chance to end the entire affair in August but blew the opportunity.

As Smith reports — and I can confirm — in June, a credible Democratic poll had Kriseman trailing Baker by a virtually insurmountable 20 percentage points. Yet, inexplicably, two weeks after Charlottesville, “Kriseman squeaked out a win

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