New Hillsborough Commission candidate hauling in cash
It has taken a little more than two months for Janet Lee Dougherty to catch up on the fundraising front with two fellow Republicans competing to be the next District 4 Hillsborough County commissioner.
Meanwhile, the board's two sitting commissioners, Ken Hagan and Al Higginbotham, continue to raise the sort of money aimed at warding off serious competition.
Dougherty, an environmental consultant, has raised $41,600 in a little more than two months of campaigning, a figure that includes a $5,000 loan she made to her campaign. She now has a narrowly lead over retiring Tampa police detective Rick Cochran and current Hillsborough County school board member Stacy White. She has spent less than $3,000 of that.
"Basically, I'm a business person and I appeal to people in business," Dougherty said. "I know a lot of people."
The candidates are raising money under new rules that went into effect two months ago allowing contributions in county races of up to $1,000, from a $500 max for each election before. The new rules now require monthly reporting.
One pool of donations Dougherty has managed to tap that hasn't always been active in local races is the maritime industry. She has served as a long-time board member of the Propeller Club - Port of Tampa, an association of maritime-related businesses and groups. Before starting her own organic recycling business, she also worked with CF Industries, a fertilizer company that relies on the port.
Cochran continues to enjoy support from fellow police officers, and from law-enforcement political action committees from around the state. He raised $13,926 in the past month to take his total $40,166, which he says is in line with his goal to this point. He has spent less than a quarter of that.
Cochran said he and a group of loyol police-officer friends and family members have been concentrating on grassroots campaigning, having visited more than 4,000 homes in door-to-door canvassing. He emphasizes his work in law enforcement and Air Force service to those who open their doors.
"I'm actually very, very satisfied," Cochran said. "I've got a plan and I'm staying with my plan."
White said he's gearing up for door-to-door campaigning. He, too, said his warchest is about where he wanted to it to be at this point, having raised $4,880 in the past month to take his total to $39,261. He has spent just more than $5,000.
White said he feels many people in eastern Hillsborough County already know him as a reliable conservative through his work on the school board.
"I always feel like I need to work a little more," White said. "But I feel like I'm in a good position in this race."
The winner of the Republican primary will take on Democrat Donna Lee Fore, already campaigning in a heavily-leaning Republican district and raising few dollars. She has raised just more than $1,400, almost all of it a personal loan to her campaign.
Meanwhile, in the county's other competitive race so far, Higginbotham, a Republican who is term-limited out from returning to District 4, is seeking an at-large seat.
He has slowed his money-raising pace, taking in just $7,500 in the past month. But he has now topped $150,000 and has spent less than $12,000 of it.
Higginbotham has picked Republican challengers, including Robin Lester, a financial consultant from South Tampa who appears to be struggling to attract campaign financing. She has raised just $4,471, more than half of it a loan from herself, and has spent almost all of it. Attempts to reach her were unsuccessful.
Don Kruse, a beauty school owner, reported no donations and in past campaigns he has generally not been an aggressive fundraiser.
The winner of the Republican primary faces Democratic Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern, who reported just $1,125 in contributions in the past month. She now has raised $40,255 and has spent less than a quarter of it.
Finally, Hagan is not letting off in his bid to scare off a challenger. He raised $28,195 last month, more than anyone else running for the commission despite having no opposition. His warchest stands at $268,155 and he has spent just more than $5,000.