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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Latvala exerts fundraising muscle in Pinellas commission race



In the final three weeks of her re-election campaign, Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala's mammoth fund-raising advantage was put to hearty, stinging use.

While her race becamed closer than some Latvala supporters would like, Latvala spent almost $39,000 mostly on direct mail (via ex-husband Jack Latvala's consulting efforts) to defeat rivals Beverley Billiris and Carl Folkman in Tuesday's primary, a report filed Friday afternoon shows.

And besides mail, she sent email to voters to "set the record straight" saying Tarpon Springs tax revenue doubled while Billiris was on the city commission, and rates went up. Meanwhile, Latvala heralded a decrease in property tax rates in Pinellas. Those statements don't mention the runup of county tax revenue over the same time as Latvala was on the board, a per capita increase far larger than the city's. (Story here).

Those mailing attacked her rivals, particularly Billiris, and tried to burnish Latvala's record, the subject of attacks on her from rivals. The difference: They lacked the ability, in money, to deliver as many punches.

That amount is almost as much as her rivals raised through last month. Billiris,who filed way back in November 2007, raised only $360 in the final three weeks of the campaign (Folkman's report isn't available yet).

Overall, Latvala raised $111,000 and spent $82,000, leaving her with $29,000 entering next week. If she wins the primary, she'll face Democrat Bob Hackworth, who already is focusing on her record. Hackworth had $21,000 on hand entering August, mostly from his own wallet.

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:41pm]


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