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Will Newton continues to widen fundraising gap in race against Lisa Wheeler-Brown

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council candidate Will Newton has outraised his opponent by nearly $10,000. That’s after outraising her by nearly $1,200 during the latest reporting period between October 5 and 18.

So far, Newton has raked in more than $62,000 since announcing his candidacy in June. Lisa Wheeler-Brown has raised $55,634 even though she entered the race six months before him.

The difference lies in the lopsided prevalence in high-dollar contributions. Newton has continuously raked in money from outside groups. During the latest report period that included maximum $1,000 contributions from the Metro Broward Firefighters PAC and the Broward Professional Firefighters CCE.

And that was a slow reporting period. Newton brought in six maximum contributions between mid-August and mid-September and four in late September. Pre-primary contributions told a similar story.

Meanwhile, Wheeler-Brown has earned some high-dollar contributions as well. This reporting period she brought in $1,000 from the SEUI Florida Political Committee. Her biggest donor has been City Council member Karl Nurse. He personally donated $1,000 during both the primary and general election campaigns and matched both of those contributions through his business, BayTech Label, for a total of $4,000 contributions.

But where Wheeler-Brown is falling short in terms of large contributions, she is surging in smaller, community-based contributions, with the majority of her contributions coming from small donations from residents.

This reporting period Wheeler-Brown raised $250 from a student, Alan Olson. Pier Park supporter Stephen Urgo donated $50 while St. Pete business owner Dan Fiorini wrote a check for $300. Former Department of Education board member and political powerhouse Kathleen Shanahan donated $250.

That doesn’t mean Newton isn’t also bringing in local contributions. The latest reporting period showed several contributions of $100 or less from locals.

Newton spent more than his opponent most recently. He forked out more than $10,000, mostly on mailers. And in full disclosure, he also spent $900 on advertising with Extensive Enterprises, the parent company of this blog.

Wheeler-Brown spent just over half that, also on mailers. She spent $6,000.

The difference in spending is indicative of the two candidates’ cash-on-hand numbers. Newton still has more than $12,000 in the bank while Wheeler-Brown has just a little over $3,000.

The two face each other at the polls November 3. However, it’s expected that more than half of voters who will cast a ballot in this election have already done so by mail.

The most recent poll surveying voters about their support between Newton and Wheeler-Brown showed the race too-close to call with Wheeler-Brown leading within the margin of error.

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 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

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