Sunday, August 19, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jane Castor takes early fundraising lead in Tampa mayor’s race

Election Day is still more than eight months away, but former police chief Jane Castor, who dominated the field in a recent local poll, is also breaking ahead in the money race.

And Castor has much more money remaining in the bank than her opponents for the March 5 election.

Castor's advantage may be illusory, though. David Straz Jr., a wealthy retired banker and philanthropist has vowed to spend as much of his own fortune as necessary to compete.

The most recent campaign documents filed last Monday also show Castor leading May's donation totals among candidates who had previously filed monthly reports. Her campaign raked in $84,008 bringing her total to $117,549.

Castor's associated political committee, Tampa Strong, brought in another $18,150 in May. So far, the committee has raised $209,572 since being formed nearly a year ago.

With more than $327,000 raised, Castor has spent just over $24,000, leaving her with nearly $303,000 on hand.

To put that cash haul in perspective. In 2011, the last time Tampa had a contested mayor's race, the winner, Bob Buckhorn, raised about $567,000 for the whole campaign, tops for that cycle.

That standard could be shattered by July in this rocket-fueled race to succeed the term-limited Buckhorn.

Straz raised $256,020 in May, with $250,000 coming from his own pockets. Straz has said he doesn't plan to accept donations greater than $500 and is expected to largely self-finance his campaign.

Straz doesn't plan to open an associated political committee, said his campaign manager, Mark Hanisee.

Straz spent $6,604 in May, the first month he was required to file, leaving him with just under $250,000 on hand.

City Council member Harry Cohen raised $9,155 in May. His associated political committee, Tampa Together, collected  $11,500.

So far, Cohen has received $211,460 in donations to his campaign and committee. He's spent $32,757, leaving him with $178,703 in his war chest

Former county commissioner Ed Turanchik raised $18,889 in May. His associated political committee, Tampa 2020, didn't raise any money last month.

Turanchik has netted $207,274 through his campaign and committee. He's spent $57,531, leaving him with a little less than $150,000 on hand.

Turanchik, who started raising money in February, has raised the most of all the candidates in direct contributions to his campaign at $120,999.

Hobbled by viral meningitis for most of May, the month he announced his candidacy, Tampa City Council member Mike Suarez raised $12,600 for his campaign.

As associated committee, Citizen Wise Florida brought in another $67,200. Suarez has spent $26,347, leaving $53,453 on hand.

Small businessman Topher Morrison raised $10,124 last month, bringing his total to $46,598. Morrison, a branding and public speaking consultant, has spent $23,732, leaving him with just under $23,000 on hand.

Morrison doesn't have an associated political committee. He says he wants to raise $200,000 for his campaign before forming one to avoid becoming "tied to special interests and lobbyists."

Editor's Note: The original version of this story incorrectly stated the amount of money raised by Jane Castor. It was more than $327,000, including $117,549 in direct contributions to her campaign. 

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