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Darden Rice builds up war chest in St. Pete mayor’s race

Rice’s campaign pulled in 181 contributions including 48 for the legal maximum $1,000.
Darden Rice.
Darden Rice. [ Photo courtesy of Darden Rice ]
Published Feb. 18

St. Petersburg City Councilmember Darden Rice raised $68,224 in her campaign in January, her first month as a filed candidate for mayor, she announced.

In the same month, she raised $29,375 in the political committee set up to boost her campaign, Friends of Darden Rice. It has raised a total $253,694 since she opened it in January 2019.

That plus her January campaign haul means she has raised a total $321,918 for the race, making her by far the fundraising leader.

Rice’s campaign pulled in 181 contributions including 48 for the legal maximum $1,000.

Her announcement comes shortly after former county commissioner Ken Welch boasted raising $28,600 each in his campaign and political committee, Pelican PAC, in the same month, giving him $104,000 in cash in the two accounts.

Ken Welch
Ken Welch [ DOUGLAS CLIFFORD | Times (2018) ]

No other candidate has yet reported substantial fundraising in the race.

Former state Rep. Wengay Newton has said the start of his campaign was delayed in part by his recovery from knee replacement surgery and because he ran in November for a county commission seat.

Rice’s news release said her fundraising is “demonstrating an impressive level of community support and reinforcing her status as frontrunner” in the race to succeed term-limited Mayor Rick Kriseman.

But it has also drawn her some criticism from the Welch camp.

Welch campaign adviser Adam Smith said Welch “will have the resources he needs” for the campaign and called Rice “a ruthless money-raiser and a force in bringing big money into St. Pete campaigns.”