Can Pat Gerard catch up to Ed Hooper during legislative fundraising break?

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Democrat Pat Gerard, who is running for the Pinellas County Commission District 2 seat now held by Norm Roche, is coming in second in fundraising behind term-limited Republican state Rep. Ed Hooper.

However, with April fundraising numbers pending, Gerard — the seven-year Largo mayor, and city commissioner for six years before that — could get a chance to catch up to the veteran state lawmaker.

Currently, Gerard has nearly $66,000 in contributions through March 31, very different from the $111K Hooper collected for his campaign so far.

Nevertheless, April puts a (slightly) different spin in the fundraising race.

Hooper’s fundraising skills are apparent, but as a sitting House representative, Florida law prohibits him from fundraising during the 60-day legislative session — between March 4 and May 2. He recently filed an April report with zero donations.

This gives the Democrat a chance to pull even, or at the very least, close the gap considerably. Of course, a $45K deficit is not easy and quite unlikely, especially since Gerard has already spent $4,775 in April, with $15,739 in total expenditures — more than twice that of Hooper, a well-known GOP legislator. So add another $8,000 to that gap.

As for incumbent Roche, what seemed to be a sign of life in March — $4,000 in donations — dropped significantly in April. His re-election effort only netted $325 last month; with former St. Petersburg City Council candidate David McKalip giving $250 and former Pinellas Republican state committee member Tony DiMatteo chipping in $50.

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.