Now that October 31 has come and gone — the last day of fundraising for the November 5 St. Petersburg municipal elections — civic activist and three-time candidate Darden Rice emerges as the firm money leader, as well as holding what may be a long-standing record for the most raised by a City Council candidate.
At least until the next election cycle.
Adding $8,640.65 to her District 4 campaign coffers during the last reporting period from Oct. 12-31, Rice now finishes the race with $118,865.65.
That is almost $48,000 more than the previous record holder Steve Kornell, who raised $71,000 for his District 5 win in 2009.
Former Crescent Lake Neighborhood Association president Carolyn Fries, Rice’s District 4 opponent, also had a healthy fundraising period, collecting $5,175 for a total of $22,980.
Rice again had union support this round, with $1,750 combined from the Tampa Teamsters Local 79, West Central Florida PBA, St. Pete Firefighters and the Tampa PBA unions.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes and his wife gave Fries $500 checks each, as did the Brent Sembler Family Trust.
Fries also loaned her campaign another $3,000, which may have been needed since she also spent $10,065 — nearly $5,000 more than she took in. Fries’ entire campaign cost $21,793, leaving her with less than $200 left over.
Rice made some significant advertising buys in the final reporting period, investing $22,750 on things like robocalls and other media, also more than two-and-a-half times what she collected. Her whole campaign price tag was $118,592, with only $275 cash-on-hand at the end.
The District 4 race remains the closest in the city, with Rice still almost 11 points ahead of Fries as of the latest polling — 40.4 to 29.6 percent. However, there are still 30 percent undecided.
Among likely voters in the at-large citywide election, Rice leads by 11.5 percent, 37.4 percent to Fries’ 25.9 percent.