St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster certainly holds his fundraising cards close to the vest, especially in the closing days of the Republican pipeline of money pumped directly into the mayor’s war chest.
As Foster’s opponent — former state Rep. Rick Kriseman — spent the morning celebrating Democrat Charlie Crist’s entry into the 2014 governor’s race, the city dropped the mayor’s last financing numbers.
Among the more than 90 separate donations, the GOP kept writing Foster sizeable checks right up to the Oct. 31 donation cutoff, with $13,850 on Oct. 15 and a $5,000 check received Halloween night. That did not include the more than $10,000 of in-kind support the state party gave Foster, for direct mail and phone calls.
Foster collected just over $45,000 in the October 12-31 reporting period, giving him a campaign total of $282,135. It is one of the best-financed campaigns on St. Petersburg history, second only to Kriseman, who raised over $331,000.
Among the other generous donors to Foster this round: $500 checks from the Florida Realtors Political Action Committee, the St. Petersburg Association of Fire Fighters, MGM Realty and the Bay Area Citizens for Responsible Government. SJH Consulting, investment professional Bonnie Strickland and the infamous non-profit activist Michael Pinson also gave $500 each.
In the lead up to Nov. 5, Foster spent $66,716 during the end of October — mostly on major media buys, advertising, radio spots, email blasts and the like — a total of $251,544 in expenditures overall — leaving him with $30,591 cash-on-hand.
With the final numbers in, the total spent by Foster and Kriseman combined now stands at $570,550. Taking in account more than 55,000 voters casting ballots in the 2009 mayor’s race, political money thrown around the city calculates to about $10.35 a head.
The future of St. Petersburg should be worth the expense. Tomorrow’s results will tell.