Ed Hooper continues to squash Pat Gerard in campaign funding for commission race

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Pinellas County Commission candidate Ed Hooper continues to trounce his Democratic opponent in campaign fundraising. Though the flow of campaign cash has slowed in both campaigns, Hooper brought in nearly $1,000 more during the latest reporting period than Largo Mayor Pat Gerard. The latest numbers bring Hooper’s total fundraising to $228,961 while Gerard has raised just over $180,000.

The difference in contributions between October 10 and 17 isn’t much – $4,025 verses $3,150 – but the spending power over the next 12-days is heavily in Hooper’s favor. Gerard has less than $10,000 left in the bank while Hooper still has $49,658 to burn.

Hooper is benefitting from both private business owners and large companies. During the latest campaign finance reporting period Hooper brought in sizable donations from Apelt & Associates CPAs and Sutherland Realty Holdings as well as Dr. William Blackshear and small business owner Joy Gendusa. During previous fundraising Hooper has also brought in more party money than his opponent.

Gerard has enjoyed some party and committee cash as well. During the second week in October she brought in $500 from the Greater Pinellas Democratic Club, $250 from the Pinellas County Medical Association and $150 from the Largo/Mid-Pinellas Progressive political committee. During the week prior, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor kicked in $250 to Gerard’s campaign and St. Pete City Council member Steve Kornell donated $50.

Hooper outspent Gerard during the latest reporting period. He pumped out $16,181 for campaign mailers and signs. Gerard only spend $153 on various fees and $50 for Facebook advertising.

The two candidates have been in a heated campaign against one another swapping ethical complaints. Gerard claims Hooper pedaled his influence as a state lawmaker to benefit clients of his consulting company. Meanwhile, Hooper has accused her of using a Largo-sponsored trip to Tallahassee to raise campaign funds instead of conducting the official business. The cost to taxpayers for Gerard’s trip was about $500 while her claims against Hooper amount to thousands. Both deny the accusations.

Gerard and Hooper are vying for the district 2 seat being vacated by Norm Roche who was ousted by Hooper in the August primary.

Early voting began in Pinellas County this Monday and vote-by-mail ballots have been streaming in by the thousands. According to the Supervisor of Elections unofficial voter turnout stats, more than 125,000 mail ballots have been counted and another 3,125 early votes have been cast. Of those votes, more than 55,000 were Republican while only about 48,000 came from Democrats. Just under 26,000 votes have been cast by voters registered to other parties or no party at all.

Election Day is November 4.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.