TAMPA — In another sign the economy remains sluggish in Hillsborough County, political candidates reported modest donations in the latest quarter.
The lone exception, at least in competitive races, was Kevin Beckner, a Democrat seeking re-election to the at-large District 6 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission.
Beckner reported his best quarter to date, bringing in $53,561 — more than his closest Republican competitor has brought in during three quarters of collecting donations. His latest tally brings his total to $171,817. Beckner, who has no opposition in the Aug. 14 primary election, has spent just $23,033.
It's also notable that while Beckner is one of just two Democrats on the seven-member County Commission, he enjoys support from regular donors to local political races who tend to favor incumbents — most of whom have been Republicans in recent years. They include public affairs consultants Pressman & Associates, whose principal, Todd Pressman, tends to back Republicans. They also include the law firms Gray Robinson and Mechanik Nuccio Hearne & Wester, Galaxy Fireworks, and the Mosaic Co., a phosphate producer.
The political action committees for several unions also presented Beckner with the maximum $500 checks.
"I've been working on bread-and-butter issues important to the entire community and not just a political party," Beckner said.
District 6 Republican candidate Margaret Iuculano, an advocate for foster children who has tea party leanings, reported raising $8,245 in her slowest quarter to date. That takes her total to $46,293, which would be a respectable showing for someone seeking a smaller, district-based seat. But she is running countywide, a race in which $50,000 may get a candidate seeking to build name recognition nothing more than two mailers to the most frequent voters.
Iuculano said she is trying to make up for what she lacks in money with aggressive door-to-door campaigning and working seven days a week. So far, most of her contributions appear to be coming from first-time donors who know her or have met her through the campaign, rather than traditional Republican backers who give each election cycle.
"Our votes will come from feet on the streets," Iuculano said. "I think we will raise enough money to run an effective grass roots campaign."
She faces Republican Don Kruse, who has run unsuccessfully for office twice before and just announced his candidacy.
In one of the other few competitive countywide races, the candidates for Hillsborough County supervisor of elections aren't exactly setting records. Democrat Craig Latimer, deputy to current elections chief Earl Lennard, reported his best quarter with $23,269 raised. That takes him to $54,001, and he has spent less than $5,000. But he just learned he'll face a primary challenge from former Tampa City Council member Tom Scott.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, awaits in the general election. However, Glorioso added just $3,950 to his war chest, bringing his total to $31,635, of which he has spent almost nothing. Glorioso was restricted from campaigning last quarter because state law prohibited him from soliciting political campaign donations during the legislative session, which recently ended.
"I expect to kick it up now," Glorioso said.
In other notable races, tea party Republican Sharon Calvert reported $5,950 in her first month or so of campaigning for the District 2 County Commission seat representing parts of northern Hillsborough. Incumbent Republican Victor Crist doesn't appear to be raising cash with great urgency, taking in another $9,650. That brings his total to $31,138, the lowest total of any incumbent commission candidate. He has spent $13,452.
In one closely watched state Senate race, former state Rep. Rob Wallace reported raising just $8,655 in a little more than a month of campaigning to unseat incumbent fellow Republican Jim Norman. Norman took in another $18,700 to bring his total to $177,820. He has spent $73,578. Another Republican, tea party-leaning homeland security consultant John Korsak, raised $11,090 in nearly a full quarter of campaigning.