Stealth cameo by Hastert means another windfall for Gus Bilirakis
U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert is scheduled to swing into town this evening to stump for Gus Bilirakis, Republican candidate for the District 9 seat being vacating by his father, Rep. Mike Bilirakis. Hastert will be making a stealth appearance -- meaning no press allowed -- at a reception at the home of Pinellas County Commissioner Ronnie Duncan, said Bilirakis' campaign manager Rob Whitney. About 100 people are expected at the $150-person fundraiser ($500 for a photo-op), Whitney said, including State Reps. Leslie Waters and Kim Berfield, Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard , Sheriff Jim Coats, and Pinellas County Commissioners Susan Latvala and John Moroni. Whitney said the event will likely yield about $50,000 for Bilirakis campaign coffers, which combined with the windfall from Vice President Cheney's recent visit, would bring the two-week fundraising total to about $300,000. According to federal campaign finance filings and a little math, that means Bilirakis' overall receipts top more $1.8 million, more than double the maximum his father ever raised in a single election cycle ( $780,000 in 1992). Records filed at the end of June show that Bilirakis had a little over $1 million cash on hand.