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.