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On the School Board campaign trail in Hillsborough

Marlene Sokol, Times Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 2:33pm

We're following the money in the Hillsborough school board races, and the check-writing is not slowing down.

You might not think District 2 candidate Michelle Popp Shimberg needs any more money. By primary, she had already shattered local records. But in the last two weeks of September, she received nearly $20,000 -- about as much as opponent Sally Harris has collected since she filed her papers in 2013.

Where's it all coming from? As before, it's a combination of friends and neighbors, members of the prominent Shimberg family and well known political and business leaders including Sheriff David Gee, Tampa City Council member Harry Cohen, the Hillsborough teacher's union political action committee, the Barr, Murman & Tonelli law firm (which handles many cases for the school district) and more car dealerships. The total is up to $127,848, with four more reporting cycles to go.

In District 4, Terry Kemple is up to $60,000, most of it local, compared to Melissa Snively's $91,000. Again, $60,000 used to be considered a lot of money for these races.

April Griffin, the District 6 incumbent who prides herself in grass-roots campaigning, pulled in close to $10,000 in the last two weeks, much of it from labor unions and political action committees.

Her opponent, Dipa Shah, has raised more than three times as much as Griffin in the campaign so far. But, judging by the recent reports, about half of Shah's donations are coming from friends and relatives in and around the Pennsylvania suburbs, where she grew up.

All told, Shah has taken in almost as much as Shimberg, at $120.159.