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Several in Largo City Commission race contribute heavily to their own campaigns

LARGO — Getting elected is not cheap.

While local elections pale in comparison to the millions spent on state and national contests, there are financial haves and have-nots in Largo City Commission races, too.

Incumbent Harriet Crozier has seen perhaps the greatest challenge so far — at least on balance sheets — from opponent Robert Hunsicker, who has so far enjoyed a fundraising advantage in the Seat 5 race.

According to Hunsicker's latest campaign finance report, released earlier this month, his campaign raised $7,285 by Oct. 8 and spent $6,552.

During the same time period, Crozier had raised $5,400 and spent $4,367. The third candidate in the race, Robert Avery, had raised $3,817 and spent $3,787.

The source of funds adds a caveat — some candidates have been more inclined to rely on their own pocketbooks to fill war chests.

Hunsicker has given $2,500 out-of-pocket to his campaign, compared with $610 contributed by Crozier and her husband, Bobby, to Crozier's campaign.

Hunsicker said he doesn't mind spending his own money to get elected.

"I hope to serve the people of Largo with integrity and efficiency. It's worth it to me to do that," he said.

Most of Avery's campaign funding has come from himself, in the form of direct cash support and in-kind contributions, such as $500 for Web design and hosting.

Family members also have subsidized commission ambitions. Crozier's family members have given $1,500 to her campaign, and Hunsicker's family members have contributed $400.

In the Seat 6 race, pitting Vice Mayor Woody Brown against challengers Doug Lardner and John Atanasio, Brown has maintained a large financing advantage, both through small individual contributions and self-financing.

About $4,000 of Brown's $7,700 campaign funds as of Oct. 8 was contributed by himself, his wife and his business, Main Street Chiropractic.

Lardner has financed about a third of the $3,558 in his campaign account as of Oct. 8.

The endorsement of Lardner by Largo's firefighters union has also paid dividends. Florida Fire PAC gave $500 to his campaign, and individual firemen have contributed several hundred dollars.

Atanasio had raised only about $1,100 as of Oct. 15.

Brown's list of individual contributors surpasses his competitors, though each gave small amounts, ranging from $20 to $50.

"It cost money to run a campaign and to do it right, in my opinion, I have a lot of contributors," Brown said. "I don't have any $500 contributors, but I have a good amount of people who gave me money. I think that's a good sign."

Brown said he won't relax until Election Day.

"You're never comfortable until Tuesday night," he said.

Several in Largo City Commission race contribute heavily to their own campaigns 10/26/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 6:16pm]
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