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Steve Kornell challenger is broke, but still there

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Phillip Garrett still has not raised a dime in his attempt to unseat St. Pete City Councilman Steve Kornell. That’s according to the latest campaign documents filed with the city clerk’s office.

His name hasn’t been brought up often as Kornell is considered all but guaranteed a win on Election Day this November. But, that hasn’t stopped Garrett from waging a campaign.

Garrett has a Facebook page and a website. Facebook is obviously free and so is the website builder he used – wix.com. It’s a template-based site that allows users to develop websites without any specific coding knowledge.

Though the site’s DIY-look is apparent. The photo of Garrett is blurred and appears to be a selfie. There’s a video message at the bottom saying “Phillip’s message” but it’s a little over two minutes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talking.

Garrett recently filed paperwork late with the city clerk prompting a $150 fine. When that was reported it was about as much as anyone had heard from him.

“Money and contributions do not make a candidate. Qualifications, Vision, and love for ones (sic) community should,” Garrett wrote in a comment on that story. “Our society must reject the age old mentality that money rules ones (sic) mind. I don’t want contributions from organizations that seem to want favors in return. I call that a favor contribution. One example of a favor contribution in my opinion is, if an organization interviews you to determine if you think like them and if they feel you do, then they will give you money. I tried that and fellt (sic) dirty. I want votes and the more we believe money is the deciding factor when choosing our leaders the less the voter will have rights to their tax dollars and the less free they will become. In the traditon (sic) of Mr. T, I pity the fool that believes money should choose our leaders.”

That’s a sentiment many could likely get behind, but it will be no easy feat for the Eckerd College grad.

His District 5 opponent, incumbent Steve Kornell, has raised more than $35,000 to date and has a history of strong name recognition in the district and throughout the area.

During the most recent campaign finance-reporting period running from July 20 until August 2, Kornell raised $2,000. That came from $500 contributions from the Realtors Political Action Committee, Realtors Political Activity Committee, Realtors Political Advocacy Committee and the Stonewall Democrats PAC.

And so far Kornell has spent just $8,642 of those contributions. That’s a lot of cash on hand and organizational support to stomp out whatever momentum Garrett may or may not build.

Garrett entered the race at the last minute, filing paperwork on the deadline for qualifying. Asked whether he was frustrated for having drawn a last-minute candidate, Kornell said he enjoys campaigning.

Kornell isn’t the only candidate who got slapped with a last- minute challenger. City Council Chair Charlie Gerdes faces Monica Abbott in a race to retain his District 1 seat. Unlike Kornell, Gerdes seems unimpressed by his competition. He’s only raised $1,800 to date with $500 of it coming from the most recent reporting period.

Abbott raised just $50 this report period for a total of $1,050.

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.

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