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Two Hillsborough Democrats flush with contributions

TAMPA — Democratic challengers outraised Republican incumbents in the scramble for campaign funds in two significant Hillsborough County races.

Phyllis Busansky, who's running for supervisor of elections, raised $48,000 in the past three months, according to a report filed with the county.

Buddy Johnson, the current supervisor, raised only $11,300.

Political novice Yolie Capin pulled in more than $17,000 and loaned her campaign $5,000. GOP State Rep. Faye Culp, who's trying to win a fourth term in her District 57 House seat, raised $4,542.

Busansky's take brings her campaign total to $82,196.

"We've had a terrific response from people," she said.

Johnson has raised $42,460 since October.

"I'm focused on this job. Not on fundraising," Johnson said, noting that it has been a particularly busy year, with the switch to a new voting system.

His most recent report includes three refunds made because donors gave more than the $500 legal limit to his campaign, he said.

Johnson in April brought on GOP heavyweight Nancy Watkins as his campaign treasurer. An accountant with a reputation for attention to detail, she said she stepped in when Johnson "had a problem brought on suddenly where he needed a treasurer."

In April, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Johnson's campaign treasurer, J. Floyd Hall, was also president of a bank that approved a loan for him.

Watkins, who said she's working for Johnson for free, also serves as campaign treasurer for Hillsborough County School Board candidate Carol Kurdell. Her 90 or so other clients are in state and federal campaigns, including Republican U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez and U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor.

Culp said she has spent little time raising money because she had no opponent until June, when Capin entered the race.

"I don't like to raise money and I don't do it just to build a war chest," Culp said. "I raise what I need for a campaign.'

Culp said she ultimately expects to raise at least $100,000.

Capin said the support she has received in the past month shows people are ready for a change.

She first got involved in politics in 2003, backing Frank Sanchez in his bid for mayor. She is now active in the local Barack Obama effort.

In the District 6 County Commission race, Democrat Kevin Beckner, a financial planner, raised $26,748, bringing his campaign total to more than $103,000. He faces environmental advocate Dee Layne and businessman Joe Redner, best known as the owner of the Mons Venus strip club, in the Democratic primary in August.

Redner, a frequent but so-far unsuccessful candidate who shuns contributions, loaned his campaign $10,000 to fund his latest run for office.

Layne has $8,600 in her treasury, including a $900 loan she made to her campaign.

The winner of that contest will face GOP incumbent Brian Blair in November. Blair raised $33,940 this quarter, bringing his total to $175,247.

Two Hillsborough Democrats flush with contributions 07/25/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 2:24pm]
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