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Charlie Justice begins to close fundraising gap in race against Mike Mikurak

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

February fundraising in the only competitive Pinellas County Commission race was fairly lackluster. Incumbent, Charlie Justice, took a first step in closing the gap between him and his challenger, Mike Mikurak. With $4,225 coming in during the month, Justice outraised Mikurak by nearly double this report. Mikurak raised $2,695.

But the difference didn’t put much of a dent into Mikurak’s fundraising head start. The Republican has raised nearly $74,000 compared to Justice who has raised less than $30,000.

Justice pulled in 26 contributions from a variety of donors. His highest contributions came from C1 Bank CEO Trevor Burgess, Pepper Contracting Services, and the Hurricane Lounge in Pass-a-grille. Each of those individuals and businesses donated $500.

Dentist Johnny Johnson donated the second highest amount with $300. The donation is the only this round to be interesting. Justice is a Democrat. Johnson ran for County Commission in 2014 as a Republican for the seat ultimately won by Pat Gerard. Her win meant it was the first time in 50 years Democrats comprised a majority of the board. The donation also represents a potential talking point for Justice to tout bi-partisanship.

Johnson is also a prominent north county dentist who Justice may be able to tap for help bringing in even more fundraising from the dental community.

PlanningWorks founder Larry Biddle wrote a check to Justice’s campaign for $250. Biddle is also hosting a fundraiser for Justice later this month. Also donating $250 were the WCFFL Political Committee, a labor group, and Resort Inns of America.

Justice appears popular among hoteliers. Czyszczon Robert and Gregg Nicklaus both donated $200 and the Alden Suites on St. Pete Beach provided $316 worth of in-kind services for a campaign event.

Meanwhile, Mikurak brought in just six donations in February. He pulled in two $1000 contributions from Audrey Dohrman, founder of Ultra Advertising. Her company also contributed $1,000. Tiffany Restaurant, a previous donor, kicked in $500.

Neither candidate spent a terrible amount of money this report. Mikurak spent a little less than $900. Most of that went for signs. He spent $200 on WebElect software that helps candidates manage voter data and other streamlining campaign features.

Justice spent just $137 on a campaign event with the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee.

Neither candidate is facing a challenger in the Primary. They’ll face off in the November General Election.

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 Patch.com 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 janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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