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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Campaign money raising continues weak pace in Hillsborough races

11

April

 Perhaps this is a reminder that the economy remains sluggish, particularly in Hillsborough County where so many jobs had been tied to the construction industry. But money-raising remains lackluster in most of the races for Hillsborough County political offices.

The lone exception, at least in competitive races, would seem to be the campaign to re-elect Democrat Kevin Beckner to the at-large District 6 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission. Beckner reported his best quarter to date, bringing in $53, 561, more than his closest Republican competitor has brought in over three quarters of collecting donations.

Beckner's tally takes his total to $171,817. Important for him, he has spent just $23,033, with no primary opposition.

Also notable, while Beckner is one of just two Democrats on the seven-member County Commission, he has enjoyed support from regular donors to local political races who tend to favor incumbents, most of whom have been Republicans in recent years. They include public affairs consultants Pressman & Associates, whose principal, Todd Pressman, tends to back Republicans. They also include the law firms Gray Robinson and Mechanik Nuccio Hearne & Wester, Galaxy Fireworks and Mosaic Fertilizer. 

The political action committees for several unions also presented Beckner with the maximum $500 checks.

"I've been working on bread-and-butter issues important to the entire community and not just a political party," Beckner said.

Republican Margaret Iuculano, an advocate for foster children who has tea party leanings, reported raising $8,245 in her slowest quarter to date. That takes her total to $46,293, which would be a respectable showing for someone seeking a smaller, geographic district-based seat. But she has her work cut out for her running county-wide, where $50,000 may get you two mailers to super voters to build name recognition.

Iuculano said she is trying to make up for what she lacks in campaign funds with aggressive door-to-door campaigning and working seven days a week. Thus far, most of her contributions appear to be coming from first-time givers who know her or have met her through the campaign, rather than traditional Republican backers who give each election cycle.

"Our votes will come from feet on the streets," Iuculano said. "I think we will raise enough money to run an effective grassroots campaign."

She faces Republican Don Kruse, who has run unsuccessfully for office twice before. Another Republican, Steve Cona, dropped out of the race. He acknowledged as he did that the financial support he had gotten -- on pace with Iuculano -- would have made it a challenge to mount an effective campaign.

In one of the other few competitive county-wide races, the candidates for Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections aren't exactly setting records. Democrat Craig Latimer, deputy to current elections chief Earl Lennard, who is retiring, reported his best quarter with $23,269 raised. That takes him to $54,001 and he has spent less than $5,000. But he just learned he'll face a primary challenge from former Tampa City Council member and Hillsborough County commissioner Tom Scott.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, awaits in the general election. However, Glorioso added just $3,950 to his warchest, bringing his total to $31,635, of which he has spent almost nothing. Glorioso was restricted from campaigning last quarter because state law prohibited him from soliciting political campaign donations during the legislative session, which recently concluded.

"I expect to kick it up now," Glorioso said.

In other notable races, tea party Republican Sharon Calvert reported $5,950 in her first month or so of campaigning for the District 2 County Commission seat representing parts of northern Hillsborough. Incumbent Republican Victor Crist doesn't appear to be raising cash with great urgency, taking in another $9,650. That brings his total to $31,138, the lowest total of any incumbent commission candidate. He has spent $13,452.

In one closely watched state Senate race, former state Rep. Rob Wallace reported raising just $8,655 in a little more than a month of campaigning to unseat incumbent fellow Republican Jim Norman. Norman took in another $18,700 to bring his total to $177,820. He has spent $73,578. Another Republican, tea-party-leaning homeland security consultant John Korsak raised $11,090 in nearly a full quarter of campaigning.

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 6:14pm]

    

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