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Buckhorn raises $335,000 for Tuesday's Tampa mayor's runoff

Tampa mayoral candidates Bob Buckhorn and Rose Ferlita shake hands Friday at the WEDU studio in Tampa after their final scheduled debate. The election is Tuesday.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

Tampa mayoral candidates Bob Buckhorn and Rose Ferlita shake hands Friday at the WEDU studio in Tampa after their final scheduled debate. The election is Tuesday.

TAMPA — Mayoral candidate Bob Buckhorn has raised more money from more people in the past two weeks than in the previous 10 months of his campaign for mayor.

Buckhorn raised $335,000 since the March 1 primary from 1,396 contributors, according to a campaign finance report uploaded to the supervisor of elections' website Friday, the last before Tuesday's runoff.

"Financially, we had a great two weeks," Buckhorn said Friday after the last face-to-face debate of the campaign at WEDU-Ch. 3. "Heading into Tuesday, we're in great shape."

By comparison, before the primary he raised a total of about $230,800 from 1,250 contributors.

Though campaign finance reports were due Friday, they could be postmarked and mailed.

The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office had not received the report for Rose Ferlita's campaign by the close of business Friday, and the campaign did not respond to a request for its fundraising and spending numbers. Going into the primary, Ferlita had outpaced Buckhorn, raising nearly $299,000 from 1,705 donors and spending all but about $80,000.

In contrast to the take-no-prisoners tone of their TV ads and their mailers, Friday's WEDU discussion was the candidates' most cordial exchange since the primary.

"I think we've probably enjoyed the time we've spent together," Buckhorn said.

Win or lose, Ferlita said the she would continue to work to improve Tampa.

"After campaigns are done, I think we're citizens of this city," she said. "I was born and raised here. This is more about the city than it is about Rose Ferlita."

The two candidates continued to differ on job creation strategies. Ferlita maintained that some people would find Buckhorn's emphasis on promoting development in high-tech and biosciences fields elitist.

"Those are opportunities for some people, but not all of our citizens," said Ferlita, who has run a drugstore in Southeast Seminole Heights, where many of her customers work in blue-collar jobs. She said the city should work, among other things, on partnerships designed to build workers' skills and provide them with expanded opportunities.

"People have to start someplace," she said.

Buckhorn said for every high-paying high-tech job the city attracts, four to six others will follow. Mayors, he said, have an obligation to lead their cities to reach beyond what they know they can already do.

And both were okay with Ferlita's tongue-in-cheek remark that, as an elitist, Buckhorn should run for mayor of Beverly Hills, not Tampa.

"She was trying to be funny," he said. "I appreciate that."

The final debate

Florida This Week, at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on WEDU-Ch. 3.

Buckhorn raises $335,000 for Tuesday's Tampa mayor's runoff 03/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 18, 2011 11:22pm]
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