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Pasco Republicans lead in campaign contributions

It's supposed to be an election year that's tough on incumbents, and especially nasty for Republicans. Add it up that way, and Democrats gain.

But not in Pasco County, where most Republican incumbents — the predominant officeholders — have racked up big advantages in campaign contributions.

Overall, it's a 7-to-1 advantage for the local GOP candidates after most candidates' finance reports were revealed Friday.

With a month to the Aug. 26 primary — and a little more than three months to the general election — Republicans lead fundraising in the race for sheriff, school superintendent and the two County Commission races in which Democrats are running.

In a Florida Senate race that state Democrats say they targeted, Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, has trounced Fred Taylor of New Port Richey, the Florida Democratic Party's favored candidate.

The only Democrat with a lead is supervisor of elections candidate Pat Carroll. After loaning her campaign $10,000, she has raised $19,600 to lead incumbent Republican Brian Corley, who has received $12,645.

But Pasco Democratic Party chairwoman Alison Morano said the party's volunteers and outreach strategy will compensate for the steep deficit.

"It doesn't have to come down to money," she said. "We have an incredible grass roots strategy going on, and lots of volunteers, and people want change."

But in Pasco, the 14 active Republican candidates have raised more than $700,000. The nine active Democrats have received more than $120,000.

That doesn't include the Senate race, where Fasano has received more than $396,000 in money and $37,000 in-kind.

Taylor has raised $17,000, plus another $38,000 in-kind, mainly the Florida Democratic Party paying for campaign management and strategy. A third Democrat, Richard Skandera of Palm Harbor, has raised a total of $2,000 — all from his wallet.

"I think they're trying to pretend they can beat us, but they can't," said state Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who is helping GOP candidates raise money.

Republicans are raising big sums even when no Democrat runs. In a heavily watched Republican primary, County Commissioner Ted Schrader has raised more than $105,000. Republican rival John Nicolette has taken in more than $93,000.

Sheriff Bob White, a Republican, has received about $170,000, the most for any county candidate. His Republican challenger, Robert Sullivan, has raised about $25,000.

The leading Democratic Party fundraiser in Pasco, sheriff's candidate Kim Bogart, has received $72,000 — mainly from loaning his campaign $40,000. The other Democrat, Jeff Deremer, has received $9,000.

"I think our fundraising is going pretty much on target," White said. "People are very gracious and widely supportive and they don't seem to want to consider a change in the works.

Times staff writer Molly Moorhead contributed to this report. David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6232.

Pasco Republicans lead in campaign contributions 07/25/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 27, 2008 9:05pm]
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