Some Hillsborough hopefuls rake in last-minute donations
The last couple of weeks were lucrative for the campaigns of a few of the people seeking office in Hillsborough County.
Democratic Property Appraiser hopeful Bob Henriquez led the pack by hauling in $77,095 in the final two weeks of campaigning. He was helped in part by a fundraiser at the beginning of the period held by the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors, which brought in more than $25,000, according to the campaign. The Florida Democratic Party chipped in another $22,500 in two separate donations. The late money grab took his total in the campaign to $147,214 and he still had just more than $12,000 banked as of Thursday. He's parlayed the money into fliers, radio ads and robo calls from the likes of former Gov. Charlie Crist.
The question for Henriquez is whether it's too little, too late. He faces Republican state Sen. Ronda Storms, the conservative firebrand who is well known to even casual political observers. That rubs both ways because her vocal positions on social wedge issues through the years as a senator and former county commissioner have angered many liberal-minded voters. Henriquez focused much of his pitch to independents.
Storms raised just $4,895 in the final reporting period, most of that from the Hillsborough County Republican Party, which also contributed $8,000 of phone banking as an in-kind contribution. In total, she raised $83,281, a low sum considering that more than half of that -- $45,000 -- was rolled over from her Senate reelection campaign, which she abandoned to run for appraiser.
Like Henriquez, Storms got into the race after the Tampa Bay Times revealed in May that incumbent Republican Rob Turner had sent pornographic emails to his human resources director, a woman he once dated and whom he fired as the Times was preparing its story. Storms trounced him in the primary, but had to spend a good bit of her money to do so.
Two no-party candidates, James DeMio and Rob Townsend, have not raised more than token money in the past month or more.
In other races, Republican Supervisor of Elections hopeful and current state Rep. Rich Glorioso benefited from $50,000 donated to his campaign from the Hillsborough County Republican Party. He also got several maximum $500 donations from Tallahassee-based committees of continuous existence. In the final two weeks, he took in $60,700 to take his total for the campaign to $150,085. He didn't have to weather a primary.
Democratic candidate Craig Latimer, current deputy to retiring elections supervisor Earl Lennard, brought in just $7,240, increasing his total to $125,801. He did not get a late cash infusion from his party, though his opponent's supporters have faulted him for taking donations from employees in the office. He did have to fend off a primary challenge, though he still had just more than $10,000 left over at the end of the reporting period.
Meanwhile, the two incumbents for Hillsborough County Commission still facing opposition were taking no chances.
District 4 commissioner Al Higginbotham, a Republican representing right-leaning eastern Hillsborough, took in another $37,170, helped in part by $20,000 from the local party chapter. In all, he raised $217,451 and still had nearly $20,000 left over as of Thursday.
Democratic challenger Mark Nash, a former aide to commissioner Kevin Beckner, raised $5,485 to take his total for the campaign to $51,483.
Beckner, the District 6 at-large commissioner, drew another $19,532, with no direct party contribution, to take his total to $316,960. He had about $35,000 left over as of Thursday.
Republican challenger Margaret Iuculano raised $7,620 in the final two weeks, with the help of $5,000 from the local party. Through her campaign, which included a primary contest, she raised $79,871 and had more than $13,000 on hand as of Thursday.