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Pinellas Republicans rake in August campaign cash

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

While the August special session stymied fundraising efforts last month, new fundraising reports for a trio of Pinellas County state House races show incumbent Republicans are well prepared for 2016.

St. Petersburg Republican state Rep. Larry Ahern brought in $10,100 in August for his District 66 re-election effort, his second best month since launching the campaign. About half of Ahern’s August contributions came from the Florida Swimming Pool Association, with $1,000 checks coming from the main association as well as the Central Florida and Manasota chapters. Ahern got smaller contributions from the Broward, Gulf Coast and Palm Beach chapters of the trade group. Outside of the Legislature, Ahern owns a pool remodeling company.

Ahern had about $36,500 cash on-hand heading into September, which puts him in good shape for his rematch against Democrat Lorena Grizzle, who posted no contributions for the month. Ahern beat Grizzle by 14 points in 2014.

South Pasadena state Rep. Kathleen Peters raised $3,000 and spent $450 in August, bringing her cash on-hand total to $58,933 at the end of the month. Peters doesn’t have any major-party competition for her District 69 campaign. Her only opponent, Libertarian psychic Robert Saviola, hasn’t posted August numbers, though his campaign has only raised $2,120 since he entered the race in late June. Peters beat Democrat Scott Orsini by 15 points in 2014, so Saviola shouldn’t be much trouble even if his fundraising efforts start to take hold.

In District 67, freshman Republican state Rep. Chris Latvala was able to raise $4,100 for the month, though he spent more than he brought in. After expenditures, which include a $4,120 direct mail campaign through Clearwater-based Direct Mail Systems, Latvala is left with about $13,150 in cash on-hand in his unopposed re-election bid.

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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