Pinellas County Commission candidates Ed Hooper and Pat Gerard appear to have slowed down their fundraising efforts with just over three weeks until the election and vote-by-mail ballots already in mailboxes.
The two raised a combined total of just more than $10,000 during the latest reporting period from September 27 to October 3. Spending, on the other hand, was rampant.
Hooper spent $63,229 in the one-week period. Most of that was on a television ad highlighting his voting record in the state legislature emphasizing tax cuts while it painted his opponent as a tax and spend liberal. Of that expense, $43,062 was for the TV spot while another nearly $20,000 was spent on direct mailers.
Gerard spent $39,962 during the same period. Her campaign cut a check for $17,888 to the Nashville-based advertising firm Fletcher Rowley. She spent another $11,407 for campaign mailers and $10,250 to SEA Polling for polls.
A TV ad from the Gerard camp criticizes Hooper’s votes raising taxes and fees, increasing college tuition, and allowing Duke Energy to rip off consumers. Gerard analgolizes Hooper’s claims that he cut taxes for Floridians to a $54 million refund Duke Energy is being forced to issue customers. That figured pales in comparison to the $3.2 billion the utility has squandered from ratepayers to fund two cancelled projects. Gerard claims Hooper has stayed silent on that issue and instead just calls her ad negative.
“If I tell the truth about Ed Hooper’s voting record, and he thinks that’s negative, that says a lot more about him than it does about me” Gerard said, “Maybe he should have been fighting for us in Tallahassee instead of doing favors for Duke Energy.”
Despite her latest spending, Gerard is at a financial disadvantage against Hooper. She’s raised a paltry $170,851 compared to Hooper’s $215,126.
Gerard’s $5,660 in contributions this cycle came from two $1,000 contributions from St. Pete Free Clinic executive director Beth Houghton and former St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Scott Wagman. The two are married. Gerard also brought in 35 other contributions ranging from $10 to $500.
Hooper raised $4,800 during the one-week period. The political committee Citizens for Fiscal Leadership and Tampa business owner James Dato each contributed $1,000. Ten other contributions ranged from $100 to $500. Former commission candidate Wanda Kimsey contributed $100. She was defeated in the district 4 primary by Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers.
Hooper and Gerard are running for the District 2 seat currently held by Norm Roche. Hooper ousted Roche in the August primary.