Kathleen Ford finally responds to “HNIC” charge

November 2nd, 2009 by

creativeloafing.com — Kathleen Ford’s racially charged comments that referenced the phrase “HNIC” (”Head Negro in Charge”) on a radio program two weeks ago has become an issue in the St. Pete mayoral campaign, which officially ends a week from tonight when registered voters who haven’t already voted will go to the polls.

How big an issue is impossible to say, but to say it’s been a distraction for Ford in the closing days of the campaign would be an understatement.

The Tampa Tribune reports today that Ford responded to the growing controversy at a question-and-answer session with students at Gibbs High School on Monday. How so? She said she was set up by host Bubba the Love Sponge®:
“Most folks know it was just a political setup because you compare the questions asked of my opponent and those asked of me, and they were pretty different,” she said

The Tribune writes that Ford blamed the incident on Bill Foster. Whether it’s Foster or the talk show host, she doesn’t appear to be owning up to the fact that the comments have created a sensation, and her reaction has been to duck the issue, at least until yesterday.

As CL will report in our article on the St. Pete Mayor’s race that hits newsstands tomorrow, in recent weeks Bill Foster has been reluctant to speak to certain media outlets in the last weeks of the campaign (like this one). One calculation for his caution has to have been not wanting to make a gaffe that could possibly hurt him. It may have been prescient, considering what’s happened to his opponent.

Most lawmakers and close political observers have told CL they expect the election to be extremely close next Tuesday. As of last night, 16,194 people had already voted by mail, which is nearly 30% of the electorate (29.2% to be official).

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