Who is Anthony Cates and Why is He Running for Mayor of St. Petersburg?
By GH Khan
Who is Anthony Lenardo Cates and why is he running for Mayor of St. Petersburg?
Cates, age 23, is a newcomer to St. Petersburg politics who is not known to have had any prior interest in the subject. In the balkanized demographics and byzantine politics of the great City of St. Petersburg, some see the Cates campaign as part of the effort of supporters of the incumbent mayor to split the opposition among the city’s African-American voters, who tend to vote in a block and have a history of supporting the winner in mayoral races. There currently are 5 candidates in the race, including the incumbent Bill Foster, Rick Kriseman, Kathleen Ford, Paul Congemi, and Cates, making it unlikely that any candidate will get the required 50% plus one vote to take all in the August 27th primary election. This, the speculators allege, provides an incentive for the incumbent campaign to encourage vote-splitting that prevents the strongest challenger, Ford, from surviving the primary. No one is accusing His Honor or any of his supporters of doing anything illegal, and many brush off such speculation as nothing more than election-time paranoia. At the same time, no one in the neighborhood is saying that Cates is running because this is America and everyone deserves a shot at becoming mayor.
Still, there are a few odd things that do bear mentioning.
Cates is a salesman at Mortgage Investors in St. Petersburg, which is owned by St. Petersburg businessman and philanthropist Bill Edwards according to records of the Florida Secretary of State. Mortgage Investors was recently fined $7.5 million by the Federal Trade Commission after being accused of placing more than 5.4 million calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. Mortgage Investors has also been the subject of numerous other consumer complaints, examples of which can be found posted on the internet. Edwards has a history of involvement in St. Petersburg political races, but there has been no indication yet that he is connected to the Cates campaign.
Cates says that he made $18,314 last year, and that his net worth is $19,000, according to local reports. There is no indication that he has any other source of revenue to support him or his campaign. He waived submission of a campaign finance report for the period of January 1 through March 31, 2013, indicating that he neither expended nor received any campaign funds in that period. Despite that he has a very smart-looking campaign website, and has set up a parallel Facebook campaign page and LinkedIn page. He also has set up smart phone app, although it does not appear to be operational as of this posting. All are full of empty rhetoric and devoid of any substance, giving the appearance that it’s all a show and that the Cates campaign is nothing serious. An example of his vacuousness is the following statement Cates posted on LinkedIn:
To the citizens of St. Petersburg my name is Anthony Cates and I’m running for Mayor of St. Petersburg. I’ve been a resident of this magnificent city for over 23 years. I chose to run for numerous reasons the most important reason being for the people of our city and for a prosperous new direction. The foundation of my campaign will not only be targeted towards our old and wise but towards our ambitious, determined and talented youth. We as a city will become more RESPONSIBLE in every aspect. We will EMPOWER the people with HOPE, LEADERSHIP SKILLS and the proper tools to make it throughout everyday life. The city will be governed OPENLY. We will take action in every aspect of our city and INTERVENE when necessary. We will also increase opportunities for JOB creation, small businesses and getting our YOUTH more INVOLVED in our city all while eradicating crime. Our struggling TRANSIT system will be revived and reformed so that our citizens that depend on it are safe and have reliable transportation as they go about their daily lives. I’m all about empowering voices to unite our community. Selflessness is what I want our citizens to be remembered by on this journey in a NEW DIRECTION, leading us to a prosperous future in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The campaign website says even less. In statements to the media Cates is, of course, opposed to The Lens and thinks that the Inverted Pyramid was closed prematurely, positions shared with fellow candidate Kathleen Ford. Absent are any details about Cates, his ideas, and how he would implement these ideas. He has the appearance of a candidate made entirely of political straw, designed more as a decoy than as anything else.
The website is also curious for prominently bearing the caption that it was designed by “GATA MEDIA PRODUCTIONS, LLC”: A check of the Florida Secretary of State, Division of Corporations did not reveal the existence of such an organization. A search did uncover a “GATA, LLC” based in Temple Terrace that was created on February 5, 2007 and administratively dissolved on April 12, 2013, but there was no indication in any of the records filed with the Secretary of State that the company had anything to do with web design. Florida requires limited liability companies to register with the state and file annual reports, and so this suggests that Gata Media Productions, LLC does not exist and that this is an attempt to mask the website’s real creators, for whatever reason. Perhaps the name is nothing more than an unregistered dba. Only time and financial disclosure reports will tell.
Cates will appear first on the ballot in August, ahead of all the other candidates, giving him a slight statistical advantage over the others among undecided voters. If he is not in the running just to shave some points off Ford’s total, and he demonstrates some real style and substance, we may witness the birth of a new political star, a fresh new face among the chorus of tired old hats. No one is, however, holding his or her breath on that one. It is more likely than not that the better organized and resourced GOTV efforts of the other candidates in the race targeting all major voting blocks will thwart whatever is the true purpose of the Cates campaign and no one will remember his name by the time the November election is upon us.
St. Petersburg has chosen not to do early voting, but voting by mail is an option. The deadline to mail ballots to overseas and absent military voters is July 13; the deadline to begin to mail ballots to domestic voters is July 23. The polls open on August 27 at 7:00 AM and close at 7:00 PM. Don’t forget to bring some identification.