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Hot on the trail: Fundraising notes from the St. Pete municipal races

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Candidates for St. Petersburg City Council faced a Friday deadline for filing reports showing finance activity through June 23.

Inside these finance reports are some interesting tidbits of information. Here are a few data points which stood out.

— District 2 candidate Brandi Gabbard (raised $2,010, spent $1,668, has approximately 18K cash-on-hand) picked up two interesting contributions in June: a $250 check from the Florida Fire PAC and another $250 from state Rep. Ben Diamond. News of firefighters endorsing Gabbard must have flown under the radar, but that’s a big pickup for her as the local firefighters are very active in city elections. As for Diamond’s contribution, does this mean he’s NOT backing Barclay Harless, the young Democrat probably more aligned with Diamond’s politics? Nah. The first-term lawmaker also donated to Gabbard’s opponent, Harless.

— Speaking of Harless, he had a relatively strong three weeks in June, raising $5,900, including checks from four local labor unions, as well as a $500 check from the influential Tampa-based lobbying firm, RSA Consulting.

— We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: Darden Rice is a fundraising ninja. She added more than $20,000 during the first three weeks of June, despite having no serious opponent to challenge her. But, hey, raising more than $94,000 for your re-election campaign is how you keep opponents from running against you.

— There’s a telling, if not sad, dynamic shaping up in the race for District 6, a diverse seat which includes sections of both Midtown and Old Northeast. White candidates — Justin Bean, Robert Blackmon, Gina Driscoll — seem to have little problems raising money for their campaigns, while the black candidates — Corey Givens, Maria Scruggs, etc. — struggle to raise funds. We’re telling you now, if its two white candidates who emerge out of the primary, that won’t sit well with the city’s African-American community.

— It was Blackmon’s turn to turn heads with numbers he posted. The recently announced candidate raised $14,320 during his first three weeks on the trail. Driscoll raised another $3,425, but also spent $6,400, mostly on consultants. The downtown neighborhood leader picked up checks from Bill Hough and Robert Sanderson, one of the owners of Bella Brava restaurant.

— Two items from the mayoral race … The first is that Rick Baker‘s campaign spent $10,000 with Data Targeting, the pre-eminent Republican consulting firm in the state when it comes to electoral research. Look for their precise findings to make their way into Baker’s attacks on Kriseman’s record. The second item which stands out: the Rick Kriseman campaign took $1,000 from CH2M Hill, the engineering firm tasked with helping to rebuild the city’s porous sewer system. The optics on that donation look bad for Kriseman. Look for critics to suggest that check is payback for the lucrative contract directed CH2M’s way.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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