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10 things I think I think about the latest campaign fundraising reports

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

1. I was one of the first to call for the City Clerk to post the Campaign Treasurer reports online, and while I appreciate the initial effort to post PDFs of the reports, the city needs to take the next step and create an accessible online database to see who’s giving what. Political Whore Wayne Garcia echoes this call in his cover story on how to fix Tampa Bay politics: “While we’re at it, how about better, more user-friendly interfaces to search campaign finance reports at the local level, as well as a way to tie local contributions to those made in state races? Right now, if I give to a city council candidate and a state House candidate, a voter would have to search two different databases to find all my contributions. And some cities, most notably St. Petersburg, have terrible or nonexistent campaign finance databases, which is inexcusable given the state of campaign finance software available that can easily be dumped into a searchable online database.”

2. My analysis of the mayoral race has been that a winner of Ford vs. Foster would square off against the better of Gibbons vs. Wagman. That analysis has not changed. In fact, these fundraising reports only reinforce my opinion. That said, Foster’s impressive fundraising efforts, as well as the PBA (and soon the Firefighters’) endorsement, and conversely, Ford’s lackluster fundraising, foreshadows Foster’s advancement to the general election.

3. “If you can’t spot the sucker within the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.” I wonder if Scott Wagman has ever seen Rounders, the Matt Damon film about poker from which that line came. Probably not, because if there has ever been a sucker in local politics, it’s Scott Wagman. The guy is, at best, in fourth place at this point. His campaign just sent out 100K in direct mail and I’ll bet my bottom dollar Wagman is still stuck in fourth.

4. Am I the only one who noticed that Larry Williams paid $750 to Randy Nielsen’s Public Concepts consulting firm? With 20K in contributions and Nielsen calling the shots, Williams could play the role of spoiler, especially to Bill Foster.

5. Sure, Deveron Gibbons raised $41,030 during the last quarter, but he spent $41,426, an amount that does not reflect any payments to his consultant Adam Goodman or to “deputy campaign manager” Jeff Copeland. With Goodman’s fees, Copelands’s wages, Nick Hansen’s salary and at least 20K in walkin’-around-money, Deveron Gibbons’ campaign doesn’t have as much cash left as it appears.

6. I haven’t been able to confirm it yet, but I heard a rumor that a 527 has been created by a couple of Gibbons’ wealthiest supporters. Three of them ponied up at least $5,000 a piece, maybe $15K. Workin’ on it…

6. How the hell do you spend $19,522 on campaign signs? I don’t know but that’s the amount Gibbons paid to the Image Station for yard signs. Even by gorilla math, that’s about 10K more than should have been spent by any standard. Put it this way, Jamie Bennett’s campaign was able to pay 100 of the larger signs for about $1,800. Throw in the same amount for 1,000 yard signs. Gibbons spent five times that amount. Something doesn’t add up.

7. Speaking of Bennett, I still don’t see an expenditure from Bennett to cover the cash he laid out for the paid stand-ins at three different events, payments for which he already admitted.

8. Kathleen Ford’s dismissal of her poor fundraising efforts, that voters still “remember” her, is exactly correct. Voters do remember her and that’s why she is having trouble raising money.

9. It wasn’t exactly sandbaggin’, but Bill Foster’s waiting until the last minute on Friday to turn his report, after Gibbons and Wagman had turned in theirs, was a savvy way to steal a headline.

10. Finally, I’d like to return to poor Jamie Bennett. And by poor, I mean poor. His latest finance report clearly shows that his campaign came apart after Ticketgate. By my estimate, he was able to raise only about $3K after my resignation on May 8. Of course there are checks that came in way after that date, but most of that money was already on the hook.

What a mistake Bennett made to listen to people who were never there — and never will be there — for him. Bennett listened to the Karl Nurse’s and Kevin King’s of the world who had not helped Jamie’s campaign because I was involved, yet they did not help Jamie after I left. The tragedy lies in the fact that no frontrunner has yet to emerge in this race, but if Barry and I were still runnin’ things, Bennett would be the Lance Armstrong of this race, right off the lead ready to surge. Instead Bennett surrendered to the worst elements of the local Democratic party, the apologists who have lost race after race after race after race…

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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