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Nina Hayden’s chances of beating Jack Latvala

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by

549-to-1.  Odds of the Bucs winning the Super Bowl this year?  Nah, the Bucs aren’t that bad.  549-to-1 represents the cash-on-hand difference between Republican Jack Latvala and his Democratic opponent Nina Hayden.  After raising $504,259 and spending just over $85,723.82, Latvala still has $418,534 left in the bank.  Hayden has raised $8,490 and spent $7,728, leaving her with just $762 in the bank.  In fact, Latvala has received more in in-kind contributions ($12,683) than Hayden has raised in total contributions.

Yet, the Pinellas Democratic Party, specifically Chair Ramsey McLaughlan,  is asking its donors, members and volunteers to take Hayden’s campaign seriously.  To date, I have taken Hayden as seriously as one can take a candidate who gives up a safe seat on the Pinellas County School Board to run for an ultra-competitive state Senate seat.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Hayden.  I really like her, actually.  I think she is smart, radiant and compassionate.  But she is no match for Jack Latvala and it’s time for someone to say that aloud.

If she had any donors, I’d tell them not to give another nickel.  I’d tell her supporters to start urging Hayden not to go through with qualifying for the ballot.  I’d tell her volunteers to, please, please find other campaigns to donate their time — there are several state House candidates in Hillsborough that could really use another set of helping hands.

And to Nina, who I know reads this blog, please, please, please stop taking the very finite resources of the beleaguered local Democratic party and file for re-election for your seat on the Pinellas School Board.

Because, after March 31, the latest deadline to report contributions to a campaign, Hayden reported that she had raised just $300 for her state Senate campaign.  $300.  That’s $100 a month.  A candidate for the Florida Senate raised $100 a month for their campaign.  Are donors, supporters, volunteers and voters suppose to take that kind of campaign seriously?

When I asked Hayden for a sneak peek at her fundraising numbers, she responded that she wasn’t focusing on fundraising, but on gathering petitions to qualify for the ballot.  Well, getting on the ballot is all well and good, but what will Hayden do once she actually does qualify for the ballot?  Oh, and, by the way, Jack Latvala was done gathering petitions to qualify for the ballot six weeks ago.  Seems somehow Latvala had time to gather petitions AND raise money for his campaign.

What’s just downright frightening for Pinellas Democrats is that Hayden didn’t post the lowest total for the last fundraising period.  That dubious distinction belongs to another former School Board member Mary Russell, who raised just $160 during the last quarter.  $160!  That pays for enough postage to reach about 400 voters — once.  Russell’s opponent, incumbent Republican Jim Frishe raised $18,510 — more than one hundred times what Russell raised last quarter.  To date, Russell has raised $1,715 and spent $1,014, leaving her with $701 in the bank.  That’s even less than what Nina Hayden has left on hand.

Again, I have to ask the question: are donors, supporters, volunteers and voters suppose to take this kind of campaign seriously.  I think it’s time some local Democrat draws the line and says, enough is enough.  These candidates are not viable and we are not going to support them.  That’s pretty strong, but that kind of strong action would be addition by subtraction.

What local Democrats have to also ask is: how did it get this way?  How is it that, in all of Senate District 16, Nina Hayden is the best candidate the Democratic Party has to offer.  This is suppose to be one of the most competitive state Senate Districts in the state and, yet, the Republican has a 549-to-1 fundraising advantage.

549-to-1?  I think the odds of Hayden winning this November are just as likely as the Bucs winning the Super Bowl.

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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