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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rays exec has donated to Wheeler-Brown campaign



With a stand-off between the Tampa Bay Rays and the City Council dominating two council races, the team has remained silent on its preferences.

In District 7, a close, heated race between Lisa Wheeler-Brown and Will Newton, the Rays question has surfaced repeatedly.

Wheeler-Brown has consistently said she would support a deal to let the team look elsewhere in the Bay area for a new stadium site.

Newton has said the team needs to sweeten the pot, although he's stated if the city redrew the boundaries of the Southside CRA to include Tropicana Field's 85 acres, it would be a huge step toward yes for him.

With a 4-4 deadlock on council, Wheeler-Brown has benefitted from her stance, including an endorsement from the Tampa Bay Times and deal supporters Mayor Rick Kriseman and council members Karl Nurse and Darden Rice. 

Many opponents of Kriseman's attempts to broker a deal have endorsed Newton, including council members Steve Kornell, Bill Dudley and, not surprisingly, Newton's older brother Wengay, the current occupant of the seat.

Wengay Newton, leaving the District 7 seat because of term limits, has been a consistent "no" vote for a Rays deal, although he recently said that he'd vote yes if the southside neighborhoods benefitted from the Trop's redevelopment. 

The Rays haven't endorsed anyone, but some cash has flowed into Wheeler-Brown's campaign from one Rays executive.

 Rays general counsel John Higgins contributed $200: $100 in July and another $100 in September. 

Wheeler-Brown has raised more than $57,000 in campaign cash. 

The team addressed Higgins' donations in a statement Monday:

"As we have stated and believe, it is not our intention to have any undue influence on this election, the citizens of St. Petersburg must decide who would best represent their interests and act accordingly. If a Rays employee would like to contribute to a campaign, it is their right to do so

[Last modified: Monday, November 2, 2015 1:52pm]


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