Last call to spend it all: final St. Pete primary campaign financing reports

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St. Petersburg votes on Tuesday in the citywide primary elections for Mayor, City Council and the fate of the Lens. For most of the candidates — those not making it to the Nov. 5 general election — it is also their last chance for a fundraising push.

As candidates file their final campaign financing reports before the primary, it’s both down to the wire and down to the money.


The race for St. Petersburg Mayor appears to be between incumbent Bill Foster and former City Councilmember and state Rep. Rick Kriseman. In the latest polling by, the two are running within one percentage point of each other — Foster at 33 percent, Kriseman at 32.

Onetime frontrunner Kathleen Ford dipped to 22 percent; the chances of her campaign making it to Wednesday look slim.

As far as money, in the Aug. 3-22 reporting period, Foster banked another $21,065 for a total of $148,674. As he battles with Kriseman in the primary — spending to the tune of $112,088 total — Foster remains on top with about $36,600 cash-on-hand.

The numbers also show Kriseman’s rise from third to second place (and neck and neck with Foster) came with a higher price tag. He collected $20,770 in August, within $300 of Foster, making him the head of the leaderboard with a total of $155,864. At the same time, he spent $38,689 for an overall $146,294 investment in his campaign.

Kriseman’s war chest on primary day will now be at a little over $9,500.

Ford’s campaign numbers are looking like her polling, a distant third. Not only has she only collected $2,800 in August for a campaign total of $32,415, but also she has spent nearly all of it ($31,884) leaving her with about $530 as she finishes the primary campaign.

Both Anthony Cates and Paul Congemi filed Wavers of Report.

City Council District 2:

Jim Kennedy, campaigning to keep his District 2 seat, is getting a little green from the red light camera lobby, receiving $1,000 from two companies involved in St. Petersburg’s controversial RLCs.

Kennedy has defended the “imperfect” red light camera system as recently as the July candidate debates. He received the maximum $500 business entity donation allowed by law from Mulhill ICS, as well as another $500 from Platepass LLC. ATS is a co-registered PAC with American Traffic Solutions, Inc. (ATS), the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company contracted to install the disputed devices in St. Petersburg last year.

Since Lorraine Margeson is the only Kennedy challenge, the District 2 race is not on the ballot on Tuesday’s primary.

Kennedy raised $5,050 in the Aug. reporting period bringing his total so far to $11,800. Of that, he spent $6,239. He has $5,561 on hand to continue his campaign. With this latest round of financing, in addition to the $1K received from RLC groups, Kennedy also picked up some $500 checks from Florida Realtor PAC, FL-Fire PAC and Pinellas PBA PAC money.

Margeson raised $790 in the 18-day Aug. fundraising period bringing her total to $3,730. She spent all of $3.51 on a PayPal transaction during that time, making her campaign price tag $1,220. Her cash-on-hand for the general election now stands at $2,510.

City Council District 4:

Red light cameras also made an appearance in the District 4 race, where civic leader Darden Rice is in a tightening money race with her likely opponent on the general ballot— Tea Party activist Dr. David McKalip.

Like Jim Kennedy, Rice too received a $500 check from ATS. Unlike Kennedy, Rice has made her stand on RLCs crystal clear — “I am not in favor of red light cameras,” it says on her website.

Frontrunner Rice, in the 18-day financial period Aug. 3-22, added $8,000, making total campaign contributions of $75,080, of which she has already spent only $56,750. That makes her cash on hand just over $18,000.

McKalip received $3,050 in the 18 days of August; with another $1,500 in loans, his total collected becomes $44,683, or a little less than two-thirds his opponent. After spending just over $40,000, the neurosurgeon has about $4,500 left in the bank as he rolls into the primary.

Carolyn Fries, running third in the polls as she enters Tuesday’s primary, received $325 in mid-August and added another $2,100 in loans to her campaign. She brings an overall $10,702 to the race, and after spending $9,910, Fries has a little less than $800 cash on hand.

Richard Eldridge loaned himself $9 and received $35 in in-kind contributions in the same period, spending nothing on his campaign. His total contributions were $207, with on-hand money of about $25.

City Council District 6:

Karl Nurse is clearly ahead in campaign financing going into Tuesday’s primary for his re-election bid for District 6 of the St. Petersburg City Council. The incumbent added $1,585 to his campaign and spent $2,921 during the Aug. 3-22 reporting period.

Nurse’s entire campaign contributions so far are $19,105, and he went through $10,740; it leaves him with a war chest of $8,365.

Not that he is going to need all that extra cash, at least at this rate.

His challengers, African-American Republican activist Sharon Russ and former Toronto Blue Jays draft Trevor Mallory are lagging far behind Nurse in finances. Russ also filed a Waiver of Report, and Mallory received one donation of $150 with a $300 loan to his campaign.

Mallory’s total now stands at $1620, and after spending $980, he goes into the final days of the campaign with $1500 cash-on-hand.

City Council District 8:

Amy Foster (again, no relation to Mayor Bill) is pulling ahead in her quest to replace term-limited Jeff Danner for St. Petersburg City Council District 8 — in endorsements, polls and campaign financing.

Foster banked another $2,345 in donations, bringing her entire campaign to $28,340. After she spent $4,454 in the Aug. 3-22 reporting period, for an entire campaign price tag of $20,054, she has cash-on-hand of just under $8,300.

Steve Galvin, who has been running a far second in the polls, picked up $595 in the same period, for a total of $16,905. He spent nothing in the Aug. reporting period, keeping total expenditures to $8,439. A majority of Galvin’s revenue was from the Ironworkers Local 397 Union, with a $500 check.

Alexander Duensing is also keeping his grassroots effort afloat with another $2,300 in loans to his campaign. He added $2,385 in donations in Aug., for a complete campaign total of $9,934. Duensing spent $1,161 this time, and his entire campaign has cost $6626, leaving him an on-hand cash amount of a little over $3,300.

Robert Davis received no contributions this time, and only spent $357. His totals are $2,812 in donations and spent $1,550.

Tuesday, it will be determined which of the two top vote getters in each election will compete against each other in the Nov. 5 general election.

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 His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, 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 and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.