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With election tomorrow, Will Newton continues fundraising surge from outside contributions

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council candidate Will Newton continues to bridge the funding gap between himself and Lisa Wheeler-Brown in their match up for District 7.

Wheeler-Brown has raised about $6,400 more than Newton. But, with only about $8,000 left of her overall $33,000 haul, Wheeler-Brown actually has less cash on hand than Newton.

Newton has raised a total of $26,615 so far. He’s spent about $17,000 of that leaving him with almost $9,500 left in the bank.

And Newton seems to have more funding momentum than Wheeler-Brown. He’s outraised her the past two campaign finance reporting periods. During the latest period running from August 3-16, Newton raised $5,050 compared to Wheeler-Brown’s $3,620.

However, while the tides may be turning based on cash-on-hand and fundraising momentum, Wheeler-Brown may be enjoying more community support than Newton.

The bulk of Newton’s contributions continue to be from outside groups – predominately firefighter groups. For example, during the latest reporting period Newton brought in $1,000 contributions from the Broward Professional firefighters, the Metro Broward firefighters PAC and the Hillsborough Fire Action Committee.

The Gainesville Professional Firefighters and the Orange County Fire PAC each contributed $250.

Meanwhile, Wheeler-Brown’s contributions rolled in sometimes just $10 at a time from members of the community and St. Pete residents. The only large contribution Wheeler-Brown brought in this reporting period came from the Florida SEIU who contributed $1,000 to her campaign.

In a Tampa Bay Times analysis of overall contributions among all candidates, Wheeler-Brown’s were the most local and Newton’s were the least.

The two candidates are fighting for one of two spots in the November 3 General Election that will be decided during Tuesday’s Primary Election in District 7. Another challenger, Sheila Scott-Griffin threatens to knock one of the two fundraising frontrunners out of contention.

In a poll conducted by St. Pete Polls for SaintPetersblog in late July, Scott-Griffin was actually polling ahead of Wheeler-Brown. Newton led the pack with 25 percent. Scott-Griffin trailed with 18 percent and Wheeler-Brown just 12 percent.

Aaron Sharpe and Lewis Stephens both came in with single-digit support.

Scott-Griffin’s latest campaign finance reports have not been received at City Hall so are unavailable at this time. However, her last report indicated she had raised just over $7,000.

Sharpe is Fourth in fundraising. He brought in $350 during the latest reporting period to bring his total contributions to $5,055. Of that he has spent $3,532. Sharpe received a $250 contribution from St. Pete City Council chair Charlie Gerdes who has endorsed him. Last reporting period Gerdes contributed $100 to Scott-Griffin. Sharpe also received two $50 contributions from St. Pete residents Edwin McBride and Donna Hoover.

Lewis Stephens raised $125 during the most recent reporting period. He’s raised a total of just $821 of which he has spent $618.

Polls open Tuesday in District 7 at 7:00 a.m. They close at 7:00 p.m. The General Election will be open citywide.

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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