Florida 10th District
St. Petersburg was first settled in the 1870s, it was reached by railroad in 1888, and it got its name in 1892, when, after a coin toss, builder and railway operator Pyotr Dementyev christened it in memory of his native city in Russia. If his partner had won the toss, it would have been named Detroit. For decades, it was known as the American city with the largest percentage of elderly residents. In the early 1900s, St. Petersburg Times editor W. L. Straub sought to reverse the industrialization of the waterfront, establishing the parks that continue to define the city’s character. Starting out on the grid streets facing Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg later spread toward the Gulf Coast as the migration of retirees accelerated. Mostly from the North and modestly affluent, the newcomers adapted easily to a city whose civic tone was set by the St. Petersburg Times and its longtime owners Nelson and Henrietta Poynter: Sober, good-humored, supportive of clean government and civil rights. More recently, retirees have come to prefer homes in less urbanized settings, and St. Petersburg has become a more conventional central city, with a larger working population, more families and minorities, and more office buildings and civic attractions, such as the Salvador Dali Museum, the Florida International Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts. The new balance has brought new politics. In the 1940s and 1950s, white-collar Yankee retirees made St. Petersburg and surrounding Pinellas County the first Republican county in ancestrally Democratic Florida. Then, in the early 1970s, Social Security was vastly increased and indexed to inflation, and St. Petersburg basked in prosperity. More workers could afford a Florida retirement, the affluent moved farther down the Gulf Coast, and in the 1970s and 1980s, St. Petersburg trended Democratic. The whole of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County are now pretty well built up, with new projects replacing old buildings in downtown St. Pete and elsewhere. Except for Monroe County in the Florida Keys, this was the slowest growing large county in the state. In 2008, the area was hit hard by the housing foreclosure crisis.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 10th Congressional District is the only district in Florida contained entirely within one county. It includes all of Pinellas County south of Clearwater except for heavily African-American precincts in south St. Petersburg, which are part of the Tampa-based 11th District. It includes all the Pinellas County beach communities on the barrier islands facing the Gulf, from Belleair Beach to Mullet Key. North of Clearwater, it includes middle-class Dunedin, pricey Palm Harbor, and the new subdivisions of Largo in the center of the peninsula. In 2004 the district voted 51% for President Bush, but in 2008 it went for Democrat Barack Obama 52%-47%.