ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman officially qualified to run for re-election Thursday, then dashed to a series of campaign events in his quest for another four-year term.

The mayor paid the $250 qualifying fee surrounded by family members, then spoke with reporters in the City Clerk’s office.

“This is just the next step in continuing to move this city forward,” Kriseman said. “This is a great city, but we still haven’t reached that pinnacle yet.”

The mayor said his opponent, Rick Baker, was focused on the negative.

“I haven’t heard him push out any big initiatives,” Kriseman said. “I heard him talk about how bad the city is and how things aren’t going well.”

Kriseman, a Democrat, also said Baker was being disingenuous in his argument that the nonpartisan mayor’s race shouldn’t be a partisan affair. Kriseman pointed out that when Baker was mayor, the Republican stumped for the 2008 GOP presidential ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Baker’s campaign responded that Kriseman is grasping at political straws.

“During my opening rally, at the Morean Arts Center in Midtown, I laid out a bold positive vision for moving St. Petersburg forward towards becoming a seamless city — focusing on public safety, improved schools, economic development, and stronger neighborhoods — while working to repair the damage done by Rick Kriseman to our sewer infrastructure, pier and city finances,” said Baker in a statement emailed from his campaign.

“Rick Kriseman’s attempt to infuse the poison of Washington partisanship into St. Petersburg is a desperate attempt to divert attention from his many failures. It will fail.”

Kriseman was in high spirits as he climbed on a bench to greet a few dozen supporters at Cycle Brewing on Central Avenue. His message? The city needs to move forward, not fall back into the past. His administration has celebrated LGBT community, put ex-felons back to work, renovated or demolished dilapidated housing and encouraged police officers to get out of their cars and get to know residents in neighborhoods they patrol, Kriseman said.

“This is real progress for real people and it’s helping them and the city move forward,” he said. “We don’t want to go backwards.”

He didn’t mention Baker, who served as mayor from 2001-10. But then he didn’t have to.

Kriseman also visited his campaign headquarters to thank volunteers and make a few calls with them to potential voters. He also was scheduled to attend the Deuces Live event in Midtown later in the evening.

The primary, in case anyone has somehow forgotten, is Aug. 29.

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