With the general election a bit more than eight weeks away, fundraising season is in full swing.
Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice has scheduled his second fundraiser this month. The reception will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Bella Brava restaurant, 204 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg.
Justice, a Democrat, is seeking his second term on the Pinellas County Commission. He’s facing a challenge from first-time candidate Republican Mike Mikurak, a retired business owner.
If you look at the latest financial reports from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office, it would seem Mikurak is winning the fundraising race.
Mikurak reports a total of $122,482 raised to Justice’s total of $70,882.
But a closer look could tell a different story. Certainly, so far, Mikurak has more to spend on his campaign than Justice has. But, about a third of Mikurak’s bankroll — 32 percent, or about $39,000.45 in cash loans and in-kind contributions — comes out of the candidate’s own pocket. That leaves him with about $83,482 in donations.
Justice, on the other hand, has put about $573 of his own money in cash or in-kind, into the campaign. That’s about 0.08 percent of his total.
And the two might have been even closer had Justice and Mikurak begun fundraising at the same time. Mikurak began fundraising in September 2015. Justice opened his campaign account a month later.
Justice has served on the Pinellas Commission since 2012 and is its current chair. Before that, he served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to 2006. He then served in the state Senate from 2006 to 2010.
The District 3 seat is one of the at-large seats on the seven-member commission so it’s voted on countywide. The election is Nov. 8.