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Lack of competition hasn’t slowed down fundraising for some Pinellas County candidates

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

There aren’t too many candidates running for each of the Pinellas County constitutional officer posts up for election in 2016, but that doesn’t mean the donation money isn’t flowing.

According to the Supervisor of Elections’ most recent finance reports, in the Pinellas Property Appraiser race, Mike Twitty, a political newcomer and 25-year professional real estate appraiser, is handily out-fundraising his lone opponent, fellow Republican and former state Rep. Jim Frishe, $120,820 to $44,065.

Current Pinellas Property Appraiser Pam Dubov is stepping down at the end of her current term. She endorsed Twitty as her successor back in 2015.

Meanwhile, Pinellas’ Sherif, Bob Gualtieri, has raised an impressive $118,505 since filing to run for re-election back in November of last year.

In April alone, Gualtieri brought in $31,950 on 50 donations. It was his best month since January, a month in which the Sheriff raised $62,785 on 189 donations.

Gualtieri’s complete campaign expenditure total only amounts to about $8,000, the majority of which has gone towards paying for food and drinks for fundraisers, as well as printing and postage fees.

His only competition so far is fellow Republican Joshua Black, a St. Petersburg activist who just jumped into the race for Sheriff last month. So far, he’s only raised $20 for his campaign.

Over in the one-man Clerk of the Circuit Court race, Republican — and long-time incumbent — Ken Burke has raised $35,604 for his re-election campaign, none of which taken in April. His total expenditures come in at just under $4,000.

Pinellas’ current Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark is also running for re-election. And, like Burke, she has no filed competition. To fund her campaign, the Republican loaned herself $11,000. She also received a $500 check from St. Petersburg attorney Susan Churuti back in March but raised nothing before or since. Her campaign purse is holding exactly $11,500.

As for Pinellas’ Tax Collector spot, Republican Charles Thomas is the only person filed to run the office. Pinellas’ longtime tax collector, Republican Diane Nelson, is opting for retirement rather than another term and Thomas was her handpicked successor.

Thomas, who served as Pinellas’ Chief Deputy Tax Collector since 2000, only began his election efforts last month, but his campaign wallet is already holding $30,000. About $12,000 came from donations while Thomas funded the rest himself.

Thomas’ host committee includes six of Pinellas’ seven constitutional officers: Nelson, Public Defender Bob Dillinger, State Attorney Bernie McCabe, Clerk of the Court Ken Burke, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, and outgoing Property Appraiser Pam Dubov.

The primaries are August 30; the General Election is November 30.

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Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for SaintPetersblog.com, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for FloridaBarTab.com. He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail devon@floridapolitics.com, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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