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Vote losers outspend winners

On average, victors spent $3,000 of their own money. Losers coughed up $14,000.

For every vote she got, County Commission candidate Eileen Ferdinand invested $6.63 of her own money.

Tax collector candidate David "Hap" Clark wasn't far behind, shelling out $4.96 of his own money for each of the 8,201 votes he got.

Both kicked in about $40,000 into their campaigns, and both lost in Tuesday's primary.

"I knew from the outset that these things are uncertain," Ferdinand said Friday. "I knew it would take a commitment of my own money."

But as it turned out, pouring money into their campaigns appeared to hurt candidates more than help them.

The Times reviewed campaign contributions leading up to the September primary and found that candidates who invested large sums of their own money into their campaigns generally lost their elections, especially when their own money represented a large portion of their overall contributions (though there were exceptions among both the winners and the losers).

The Times reviewed the County Commission, tax collector and sheriff's primaries.

On average, the winners in last week's primary contributed a little more than $3,000 to their own campaigns. The losers kicked in an average of more than $14,000 into their campaigns, at an average cost of $2.61 per vote. The winners personally spent an average of 44 cents per vote.

County Commissioner Ann Hilde brand was on the low end of that figure, having spent about half a cent of her own money on each of the 20,243 votes that re-elected her. Hildebrand opened her campaign account with a $100 check, yet pulled in almost $50,000 in contributions.

Her opponent made her support from development interests an issue in their campaign.

Unfairly, Hildebrand said.

"I raised money from a lot of cross sections," she said.

So is it just a case of whoever has the most money wins? Apparently not. Both Ferdinand and Clark outspent their opponents _ Clark by 2-1, Ferdinand by close to 3-1 _ yet both lost.

From the start, Ferdinand limited her outside contributions to $100 apiece. Much of the $45,270 Ferdinand contributed to her campaign came from a single $20,000 check she wrote in the final weeks before the Sept. 5 primary, but it wasn't enough. She garnered a little more than 45 percent of the vote, with fellow Democrat Peter Altman taking about 54 percent of the vote.

She regrets nothing, she said.

"It really was a great experience. I met a lot of interesting people and learned what the county's problems were," Ferdinand said.

Clark wrote a $15,000 check to his campaign a week before the primary. It was preceded by a couple of $8,000 checks plus several smaller ones. Clark, who waged the most contentious campaign in his effort to unseat Tax Collector Mike Olson, could not be reached for comment. His only words the day after the election were:" I'm taking my wife on a second honeymoon."

Rod Neal, who finished second in the Republican primary for County Commission District 1, put more than $13,000 into his campaign. That amounts to a little more than 60 percent of his entire coffer, costing him about $3.56 a vote.

Ted Schrader, who won the Republican primary for County Commission District 1 with just $50 of his own money, said his support network served two functions: It helped him raise money (about $30,000) and provided him with volunteers to work the phones and go door to door.

"We had a tremendous outpouring of support," Schrader said.

The winner of the County Commission District 1 Democratic primary, Charlotte Kiefer, may be one of the exceptions. She won her primary even though about half of her $21,060.50 in contributions came from her or her household.

Jim Gillum came in third in the Republican primary for sheriff. Gillum invested more than $10,000 of his money, even though he owed the state for back child support.

"I considered it a good investment for what I thought I had at the time," Gillum said Friday.

Would he put that kind of money into a campaign again if he thought he'd win?

"If I was a psychic, I'd pick six Lotto numbers every week. There's no way of knowing," Gillum said.

Election spending

In most cases, candidates who spent more of their own money on their campaigns lost their races.

Winners Losers

Own money spent $31,125.53 $129,810.50

Average amount invested $3,890.69 $14,423.39

source: Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Office

What does a vote cost?

Here is a breakdown of what candidates in Pasco County races spent and how that translated into cost-per-vote.

Candidate Own money spent Cost per vote

Commission Dist. 1

Alan Brenia $4,665.56 $1.95

Pat Burke $5,230.09 $0.77

Charlotte Kiefer(g) $10,010.63 $1.32

Rod Neal $13,673.68 $3.56

Ted Schrader(g) $50.00 $0.005

Commission Dist. 3

Scott Factor $4,366.89 $0.31

Ann Hildebrand(e) $100.00 $0.005

Commission Dist. 5

Peter Altman(g) $254.00 $0.31

Jack Armstrong(g) $5,641.90 $0.54

William Faulkner $1,117.71 $0.25

Eileen Ferdinand $45,270.00 $6.63

Ed Poulin $4,294.54 $1.89

Tax Collector

David "Hap" Clark $40,700.00 $4.96

Mike Olson(e) $5,550.00 $0.20

Sheriff

Jim Gillum $10.492.00 $3.23

Gil Thivener(r) $7,519.00 $1.10

Bob White(r) $2,000.00 $0.25

e: elected; g: proceeds to Nov. 7 general election; r: proceeds to Oct. 3 runoff

Source: Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Office

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