1. Archive

Gunter out-gunning Murphy in political contributions

With the House District 36 election set Tuesday, the race is drawing tens of thousands of dollars down the stretch, according to campaign finance reports.

The state's Division of Elections shows Republican Bill Gunter amassed three times as much in political contributions as Democrat Amanda Murphy – roughly $283,000 to $94,000 – during the Sept. 13 to Oct. 10 reporting period.

The list of contributors is telling: Most of Murphy's supporters reside in Pasco or the Tampa Bay area while the overwhelming majority of Gunter backers come from outside the area, most notably Tallahassee.

Tens of thousands of dollars have flowed through Republican sources to Gunter, a Presbyterian minister.

Locally, Pasco Commissioner Kathryn Starkey and Grady Peeler Jr., director of the Pasco chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Tampa Bay, were among Gunter's contributors. Starkey gave $100, Peeler $50.

Ronnie Deese, president of the Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club homeowners association gave $200. GOP State Committeewoman Sandy Graves of Land O' Lakes wrote two $200 checks to Gunter's campaign. State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R.-St. Petersburg, donated $500.

Among Murphy's local contributors were: New Port Richey developer Frank Starkey, $100; New Port Richey Police Chief Kim Bogart, $500; former Pasco Sheriff Lee Cannon, $300; Former state Rep. Mary Figg of Lutz, $200; and real estate investor Gary L. Blackwell, $500.

Andrew Barnes, former chairman and chief executive of the St. Petersburg Times, gave $250 to Murphy.

Millionaire philanthropist Frank Morsani, a prominent Republican, donated $500.

Another Republican, assistant schools Superintendent Ray Gadd, also gave $500. Meanwhile, Gadd's boss, schools Superintendent Kurt Browning, endorsed Gunter.