GOP newcomers already receiving party support for Pinellas House campaigns

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A trio of GOP newcomers – and a first-term Republican incumbent — are making headway in Pinellas County House races, with some help from the state Republican Party, as the first round of fundraising reports drop from the Florida Division of Elections.

House District 65

Chris Sprowls enters the General Election well ahead of incumbent Democrat Rep. Carl “Z” Zimmerman in House District 65. Sprowls, a first–time House candidate, added $6,000 in-kind support from the state GOP for the reporting period of Aug. 22-29. To date, the Tarpon Springs Republican stands at $206,736 in contributions. With just over $193K spent in the primaries, Sprowls begins with $14,834 in the bank.

During the same period, Zimmerman raised $3,935, for a total of $83,186. Since he ran unopposed in the primaries, and received nearly $30K in-kind support, mostly from the Florida Democratic Party, Zimmerman begins the race to November with $66,281 cash on hand.

HD 65 consists of north Pinellas County, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Palm Harbor and East Lake.

House District 67

After gaining momentum through a decisive primary win, GOP newcomer Chris Latvala begins the General Election with a financial lead — and Party support — over Democrat Steve Sarnoff in the House District 67 race.

Although Latvala brought in $610 during Aug. 22-29 reporting period, with another $6,000 in-kind from the Republican Party of Florida, he now has a total of $237,095 to date. Latvala, son of Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala, spent a total of $229,658 on his primary win, leaving him with $7,437 on hand.

Sarnoff, who pulled off his surprising primary win against a better-funded Democratic opponent, brought in $1,100 during the weeklong reporting period, for a total of just under $20,000. After spending $16,625, Sarnoff starts the race with only $3,124 to face Latvala, who brings not only substantial name recognition in the east Pinellas County district, but also a distinct fundraising prowess.

House District 68

Bill Young II, fresh from his landslide victory in the House District 68 Republican primary, enters the General Election by adding $650 in fundraising, as well as a boost of $7,000 in support from the RPOF. This brings his total to $117,079 for the race in the district covering eastern Pinellas County and parts of Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg.

After total expenditures of $74,400, Young will start the race against Democratic state Rep. Dwight Dudley with $42,677 cash on hand.

Dudley, the first term incumbent from St. Petersburg, added $2,370, for a total of $143,520. Without a primary challenge, Dudley only spent $25,656 in expenditures, which give him nearly $118K to face Young — son of former U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young — in November.

House District 69

State Rep. Kathleen Peters, the freshman incumbent in House District 69, banked $4,500 in the weeklong reporting period, with another $3,600 in support from the RPOF, to bring her total to $156,459 and more than $107K in her war chest. She ran unopposed in the GOP primary for the seat covering the south Pinellas beaches, Gulfport and South Pasadena.

Attorney Scott Orsini, Peters’ Democratic opponent, took in $1,105 in the seven-day period – including a $250 check from the Pinellas County Democratic Party — for a total of $32,440. After spending a total of $12,441 in the primary, where he also faced no opposition, Orsini enters the General Election with just under $20K in the bank.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.