The race for St. Pete mayor has already gone down as the costliest election in city history, and new campaign finance reports show no lulls in the arms race between incumbent Rick Kriseman and former two-term Mayor Rick Baker.
Kriseman, who won the Aug. 29 primary election by 69 votes, jutted ahead of his competition in cash on hand after tacking on about $60,000 through his campaign between Sept. 16 and Sept. 29 and adding another $120,500 through his political committee, “Sunrise PAC,” during September.
The campaign had already reported raising $28,136 between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1 with another $6,963 coming between Sept. 2 and Sept. 15 for a total of $215,126 between his two accounts last month.
The reports bring Kriseman’s to-date fundraising numbers past the $1 million mark – $540,000 through the committee and $535,000 through the campaign. He has about $214,000 on hand once September spending is factored in.
Topping the committee’s donor roll was a $50,000 check from the Tampa Bay Rays, followed by retiree Rosalie Danbury who gave $10,000 for the second month in row. The bulk of the spending headed to the Florida Democratic Party, which got a $20,000 contribution, while San Francisco-based Sea Polling took in about $7,000 for polling work.
Baker edged out Kriseman on the campaign side with just shy of $69,000 in contributions in his newest report, but fell short with his political committee, “Seamless Florida,” which raised $95,000, bringing his to-date fundraising total a bit past $1.4 million.
Adding the two earlier September reports shows the former mayor raised a total of $185,688 last month, and after expenses he had about $149,000 work with a month out from Election Day.
Committee contributions included $25,000 from Liberty Florida, a committee tied to Liberty Insurance, as well as $10,000 a piece from Terence McCarthy, Mel Sembler, Heron Holdings, James MacDougald, and Republican Rep. Chris Sprowls via Floridians for Economic Freedom.
Poli Solutions Consulting got a little over $24,000 from the committee for management, printing and voter contact work, while Mentzer Media Services received $18,460 for ad placement and Gainesville-based Data Targeting got about $6,000 for voter data and direct mail campaigns.
Election Day comes to St. Petersburg on Nov. 7, and a recent survey of 1,012 St. Pete voters found Baker with a slight advantage over Kriseman, 46.0-45.3, with the remaining 8.7 percent of voters undecided.
The spread is well within the 3.1 percent margin of error set by St. Pete Polls, which also published a poll in August that showed Baker with a 7-point edge on the eve of the primary that saw the field of six candidates whittled down to the only two who mattered.
Kriseman and Baker will have to give voters a look at their campaign finance numbers three more times before Election Day: Sept. 30 – Oct. 6 numbers are due Friday; Oct. 7 – Oct. 20 numbers are due Oct. 27; and Oct. 21 – Nov. 2 are due Nov. 3, the Friday before the election.
Reporting dates for the committee accounts aren’t as stringent. By the time Seamless Florida and Sunrise PAC release their next round of reports on Nov. 13, the victory will have had a week to celebrate his win.