Clearwater City Council candidate gets Democratic cash boost
CLEARWATER---The Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee has given a $6,000 donation to newcomer Jon-Paul Rosa’s campaign for Clearwater City Council.
The Feb. 3 donation is likely the largest given to any City Council candidate in the county, said Mark Hanisee, the chairman of the party's Executive Committee.
Pinellas County Democrats have become more active in municipal elections as part of a strategy to “deepen the bench,” Hanisee said, citing recent support for Democratic candidates in the St. Petersburg and Gulfport mayoral elections.
Rosa, a 30-year-old Army combat veteran who is Puerto Rican, was a promising candidate, Hanisee said.
“He’s a college student, he’s a veteran and he’s a Latino,” Hanisee said.
Rosa was a registered Republican until August, when he switched his registration to Democrat, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections.
The GOP’s stance on immigration, or lack of one, Rosa said, was the reason for the switch.
City Council races are non-partisan, but Rosa said he didn’t think voters would be swayed one way or another by news of Democratic support of his campaign.
Hoyt Hamilton, Rosa’s opponent for Seat 5, has a different take.
Hamilton, who was a City Council member from 2001 to 2006, said he can’t remember party money being a part of Clearwater City Council elections before. He said it sets a troubling precedent, but he doesn’t plan to ask for any Republican help.
Hamilton is a registered Republican.
“In my years on council I never for one millisecond thought, ‘Is this going to help Republicans or Democrats?' but is this going to help Clearwater?”
Rosa said he used the money to buy yard signs and pay for mailers.
“I see it as helpful,” Rosa said. “The biggest issue in my campaign is outreach.”
The latest campaign filings show Hamilton still outpacing Rosa in campaign cash by a $22,595 to $15,393 margin.
Voters will decide the winner of the at-large citywide seat on March 11.