Term-limited State Rep. Ed Hooper wants to bring his political expertise, honed in Tallahassee, back to the local scene with a run for the Pinellas County Commission seat currently held by Republican Norm Roche.
Hooper, a previous Clearwater City Council member, is proving to be a shrewd campaigner on the county level, especially since the Republican won a seat in the House four times.
That does not sit well with Democratic Largo Mayor Pat Gerard, who is also running for Roche’s position on the board.
In an email to supporters, Gerard examined the 25 contributions listed in Hooper’s March fundraising report. She noted that a majority of donations came from organizations, advocates and PACs throughout the state. Only one contribution to Hooper in the entire month originated from Pinellas County.
Gerard’s main issue is that Hooper’s donations past month were predominantly from groups, not individual voters. In contrast, she says that her money came from within Pinellas, which she uses as proof the choice in this race “is simple.”
“It’s shameful,” the email says. “We don’t need Tallahassee politics, and the dysfunction that comes with it, in our local elections.”
Hooper, with pro-business business record, outraised Gerard in March by about $1,900, receiving $11,950 versus the mayor’s $10,045. Hooper’s has raised a total of $110,790 to date, compared to Gerard’s $65,582, the most of any candidate countywide.
Gerard’s concerns seem to be a matter of degree; she also received donations from business, PACs and unions — including $500 checks in March from the Ironworkers Local 397 PAC, GCS Energy Recovery of Pinellas and Ruth’s List of Florida, as well as $100 from the Democratic Women’s Club of Upper Pinellas.
Most of Gerard’s contributions did come from entities with Pinellas addresses, however.