In St. Petersburg's mayoral race, Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker rake in the big bucks, exceed $500,000 each
ST. PETERSBURG — Rick Baker's campaign announced Thursday that the former mayor raised $553,174 in the three weeks since he announced he was running for his old job on May 9.
Hours after the Baker announcement, the campaign of incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman responded that it raised $100,000 in May, bringing its total contributions to over $500,000. Thursday's dueling announcements were the opening salvo in what is widely expected to become the most expensive mayoral race in St. Petersburg history.
Baker called the financial support an endorsement of his vision of a "seamless city." His campaign said the haul broke all records for a mayoral election.
“Whether it’s five dollars or five hundred dollars, I’m honored to have the support of so many of my neighbors,” Baker said in a prepared statement. “The overwhelming support from contributors is an endorsement of our vision for a seamless city and our laser-like focus on fixing things right here in St. Petersburg.”
Baker, a two-time mayor and Republican, is challenging Kriseman, a Democrat serving in his first term. There are also several lesser known candidates in the race.
Earlier Thursday, the mayor said Baker's cash haul is an indicator of the obvious: it's going to be a competitive race.
But Kriseman said he's confident that he'll have enough money to keep it competitive.
"As long as we have the resources to tell our story about the progress we've made and moving forward, not backward, we'll be in fine shape," Kriseman said.
Kriseman's campaign manager Jacob Smith said Baker was raising cash from "big right-wing money," and again tried to link Baker with national issues, saying Baker has remained silent on climate change. Last week, Kriseman signed on to a national protest of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.
Neither campaign provided a list of May donors on Thursday. That information is expected to be released Friday.
The primary is Aug. 29. If neither candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, they'll keep battling each other until Nov. 7.