Ed Hooper spends big during first week in October to defeat Pat Gerard

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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.

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.