ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Within an hour of polls closing in St. Petersburg Tuesday, mayoral candidate Rick Baker conceded the race to Mayor Rick Kriseman.
Kriseman said the credit lies with his team who saw him down in this race early in polls, but helped him come back to win the primary by 70 votes - and Tuesday night by several thousand.
Kriseman's win was a narrow one. With 98 percent of precincts reporting at 7:20 p.m., Rick Baker was trailing Rick Kriseman by less than 3 percent of the vote.
Kriseman came on stage after Baker's concession speech and was hugged by his deputy mayor and his family.
"Rick Baker and I just waged a tough battle against each other. It was a clash of philosophies and vision for our city. It wasn't always pleasant, to put it mildly. But when the dust settles, I believe Rick Baker and I can work together and put St. Pete first," Kriseman told his supporters.
Kriseman won both early voting and mail-in votes by 1,261, and election day votes by 930. He also said it's possible the Democratic wave in places like New Jersey and Virginia was mirrored across the country.
Although he led in early polls, Rick Baker faced headwinds throughout the race as a Republican in a Democratic stronghold. He never seemed to regain momentum after falling behind the last minute on primary night two months ago by only 70 votes.
While Baker tried to make inroads in traditionally Democratic south St. Pete, Kriseman tied him to the Trump administration. He also faced ads that painted him as anti-environment, despite his charges that Kriseman mismanaged the city's sewer crisis.
"I am thankful for an incredible campaign team that we have. They worked against enormous odds to bring us close to victory. It was a difficult effort. And we had much mounted against us along the way. I am so proud of the effort that they made," Baker said in his speech Tuesday night.
Kriseman now enters what will undoubtedly be a tough four years. Decisions have to be made on pier redevelopment and the Rays.
"Only 27 percent of voters made it to the polls in Pinellas County. A view of election turnout maps shows voters in South St. Pete voted in higher numbers than in the rest of the city, which may well have helped Kriseman.
Pinellas County voters also decided to renew a one-cent sales tax for another 10 years; 83-percent were in favor of keeping Penny for Pinellas.
This means the sales tax in Pinellas County will stay at seven-percent through at least 2030. The tax was started in 1990 to improve infrastructure.
In Clearwater, 76-percent voted in favor of the $55-million Imagine Clearwater project.
It will allow construction and maintenance for amenities on city-owned land along the waterfront downtown.