The long, hot campaign season begins for Pinellas County Commission races

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If May fundraising numbers of various Pinellas County Commission candidates are any indication, it is going to be a long, hot summer campaign.

Pinellas County Commission District 2

Largo Mayor Pat Gerard, with a substantial boost from the Florida Democratic Party, narrowed her fundraising gap with term-limited state Rep. Ed Hooper for the Pinellas County Commission District 2 seat now held by Norm Roche.

Gerard raised $17,964 last month, including $5,000 from the FDP, bringing her total to $98,396. Hooper, with a combination of donations from PACs, consultants and businesses, brought in $4,975, for a total of $115,765.

Hooper still leads in cash on hand, though, with more than $107,000 in his war chest. Gerard, who spent nearly $25,600 so far, has $72,800 on hand.

As for Roche, the incumbent netted $3,150 in May, much better than his April take of $325. He now has $12,255, spent $3,350 and has $8,725 on hand.

Pinellas County Commission District 4

In an extremely crowded race for District 4, currently held by the retiring Susan Latvala, an even dozen active candidates raised about $40,000 combined for the May reporting period.

Leading the pack of active candidates was Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers, who raised $12,475 for a total of $33,275 last month, including $5,000 Eggers transferred to his campaign account.

Remaining well ahead of the competition in fundraising, however, is Palm Harbor Republican Johnny Johnson Jr. The retired pediatric dentist added $7,950 in May, bringing his total to $81,725 overall. Johnson has around $78,500 cash on hand.

Wanda Kimsey, former assistant to retired Pinellas Commissioner Bob Stewart, also posted some solid fundraising numbers, adding another $5,725 to her campaign, for a total of just under $11,200. She has $8,337 on hand.

Republican Macho Liberti almost doubled his fundraising numbers when he took in $3,383 last month, bringing his total to $7,719. Spending $1,661 to date, the Largo firefighter now has just over $6K cash-on-hand.

Oldsmar Mayor Jim Ronecker, in his first full month on the District 4 campaign trail, banked $3,300 and spent nothing as of yet.

Former state Rep. Peter Nehr, in his off-again-on-again campaign, raised $1,075 in May; his total is now $16,250. Nehr’s largest contribution came in the form of $500 checks each from the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association and Werner’s European Imports from Tarpon Springs. Last year, Nehr — who served in the Florida House from 2006 to 2012 — announced he would run for Latvala’s North Pinellas seat, but withdrew in April 2013, entering once again in March.

Bringing up the rear in the GOP money race are small business owner Timothy Keffalas, who brought in $200, and data analyst Scott Fisher, with no donations recorded for May.

Among the Democrats, Mark Weinkrantz performed the best, with $3,550 raised last month for a total of $18,326 — including a $2,000 transfer to his account. Jack McAdoo posted no donations.

Of two No Party Affiliation candidates, Carl Folkman led by collecting $2,250 last month — more than doubling his overall take to $4,250.  Marcus Harrison reported no fundraising.

Pinellas County Commission District 6

Republican veteran John Morroni continues a commanding lead in his Pinellas County District 6 re-election, raising $16,975 through 85 separate contributions in May, for a total of $79,195. Among last month’s biggest donors were Tampa-based Pepper Contracting Services, Starlight Cruises CEO Phil Henderson and New York state attorney Dan Elias, who each gave $1,000.

After posting a solid $6,250 in April, Morroni’s GOP opponent, Internet publisher Thomas Rask, raised only $350 in May for a total of $6,600.

Libertarian Party candidate Jack Harris posted no donations for last month. Harris hasn’t had a donation since the first quarter of 2013.

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.