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Challengers in Gulfport races out-fundraise incumbents

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

Incumbents in Gulfport are getting trounced by opposition in early fundraising efforts. Mayor Sam Henderson and City Councilman Dan Liedtke are both trailing challengers significantly in campaign cash hauls.

Barbara Banno, a local restaurant owner trying to unseat Henderson, raised more than $6,600 during December according to campaign finance reports. Henderson didn’t raise a dime and has only brought in a total of $140, resulting in a loan from himself.

April Thanos, Liedtke’s challenger, raised $3,000 in December compared with her opponent’s $800. Half of Liedtke’s December fundraising came from a loan to himself.

The totals show a trend common in races for small municipalities where incumbents often enjoy safe races. However, early fundraising totals show the heat may be on for Henderson and Liedtke.

Banno brought in four maximum $1,000 contributions from Gulfport residents Douglas Hudson, Leonard Robledo Jr. and Maria Ferreira. Her father, Donald Banno, also kicked in $1,000.

Two Gulfport residents, Francesca Perez and Angel Rodriguez, contributed $500 to Banno’s campaign.

Meanwhile, Thanos is raking in a ton of smaller contributions to boost her totals. Nearly all of her contributions were under $100. There were just 12 $100 contributions, two for $250 and one for $500. Her campaign is aiming for grassroots support.

Thanos is tapping outside resources too, though. Three of her $100 contributions came from Seattle where Thanos used to live. One came all the way from Hawaii and another from Arlington, Virginia. Thanos’ work for a global shipping company gave her with supporters all across the nation.

Thanos’ biggest contribution, the one for $500, came from Kristi Marchbanks in Seattle. One of the $250 contributions came from campaign consultant Tom Alte who co-owns the company handling Thanos’ election bid, Blue Ticket Consulting.

Thanos has spent about half of her cash on hand. Most of that went to MityMo Designs for “campaign design.”

Banno has spent a little less than a third of her campaign cash on campaign services from Keen Consulting.

Henderson has spent $120 of the $140 loan to his campaign on the city’s qualifying fee. Liedtke has spent $355 of his $900 on various expenses including printing, Facebook advertising and filing fees.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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