Bus line owner and Republican Brian Scott is off to a fast start challenging Democratic Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard, raising a substantial campaign fund with the help of dozens of contributions from his own industry.
Scott has raised more than $100,000 since filing Aug. 30 — $68,525 in his campaign account and $31,650 in an affiliated political committee, which can accept contributions exceeding the $1,000 campaign maximum.
Two-term incumbent Gerard, meanwhile, has raised more than $95,000 in her campaign since Sept. 1. She has no affiliated committee but said she’s about to start one.
A second Republican candidate, Debbie Buschman, had raised $13,505 as of Nov. 30 and said she did little fundraising in December.
Scott is the head of his family’s Escot bus tour company and a former chairman of the industry trade group United Motorcoach Association.
Of his 117 campaign contributions through November, about 50 came from individuals or businesses in the industry, most for the $1,000 maximum, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis of campaign finance reports.
Scott attributed that to the extensive connections and good will he’s built in the industry rather than any specific issue.
However, he is a former member of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and says the county needs “more transportation and transit options” to get cars off the roads.
Gerard has also served on the transit authority, and said she and Scott differed over the agency’s decision to move toward electric buses, which she favors and he opposed.