Bilirakis has large fundraising lead in House District 12 race
Republican U. S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, an incumbent with a potent political name, is a heavy favorite to win the new U.S. House District 12, which spans northern Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and much of Pasco.
But Democratic challenger Jonathan Michael Snow figures he at least has reached an important milestone with his last campaign financing report: With nearly four months left in the race, Snow’s individual donations of $5,297 have nearly doubled those of Anita de Palma, the Democrat who took on Bilirakis in the 2010 general election.
De Palma is a party activist who ran twice for Congress. Snow, a young newcomer, says he has been raising funds online and by picking up small donations at forums and other political events where he gets to speak. “Usually afterward, somebody comes up and says they want to help,’’ Snow says. “They say they can’t do much but will give what they can.’’
Snow may have to give a lot more speeches. Bilirakis lists $335,689 in individual donations in his latest federal spending report, as well as $208,000 in PAC money.
Snow also lags in the “just barely old enough to run’’ competition.
Ricky Gill, the Republican candidate in California’s 9th Congressional District, turned 25 in May, just weeks after Snow did. In the California race, redistricting made a Democrat incumbent from urban East Bay cities suddenly scrap for his political life in the largely rural San Joaquin Valley, where Gill helps run a family cherry and grape farm. National Republican interests figure they have a good shot at picking off a seat and have pumped more than $1 million into Gill’s campaign.
--Stephen Nohlgren, Times staff writer