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Jane Castor rakes in more than $50,000 in less than two weeks

Castor is approaching the $300,000 mark.

Tampa Mayoral front-runner Jane Castor pulled ahead in the non-self-funded money race over Ed Turanchik, according to the latest campaign finance filings.

Castor has now raised $279,000, about $45,000 more than Turanchik.

The two had been neck and neck in fundraising before the second half of January. Castor raised $54,000 from January 19 to February 1. Turanchik raised just $11,000.

Despite being the top fundraiser, Castor is still lagging far behind philanthropist David Straz in buying power. The retired banker has had more than $1.9 million to work with, buoyed by $1.5 million in self-contributions and another $300,000 infusion in late January.

While Straz is mostly self-funding, Castor’s campaign has proved to be a fundraising machine. During the latest campaign filing period, Castor posted an impressive array of top-dollar contributions from companies, organizations and individuals.

She brought in $1,000 from Jeff Vinik and another $1,000 from JV Hockey Ventures, an organization affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning, which Vinik owns. Castor also capitalized on recent endorsements from police groups including $1,000 from the local police union and $1,000 each from the Tampa and Florida Police Benevolent Associations. Ruth’s List also cut a check for $500 after offering its endorsement last month.

Castor spent nearly $70,000, her second highest spending period to date. Of that, $40,000 went to Multi Media Services in Alexandria, Virginia for advertising. Castor also shelled out $12,500 to Mercury Public Affairs for campaign consulting and $10,000 to Compete Digital in Brooklyn, New York for advertising.

Castor has about $88,000 left in her campaign coffers.

Straz, meanwhile, has about $300,000 left to spend thanks to his latest personal campaign loan. Of the $1.9 million brought in as of the first of the month, Straz has already spent $1.6 million.

Straz spent $226,000 during the latest reporting period including $100,000 to Fletcher Ridge in Nashville for advertising, $38,000 to Fieldworks in Washington D.C. for canvassing and $20,000 to The Kitchens Group for an internal poll.

The latest external poll by St. Pete Polls put Castor way out ahead of the rest of the mayoral pack. Straz’s internal poll echoed those results but, after what the campaign described as “providing more information about Castor and Straz’s campaigns” showed Straz closing the gap.

Polls in general have grown largely untrusted after getting a lot of major races wrong including those that showed Hillary Clinton easily defeating Donald Trump for the presidency in 2016. Internal polls can also be skewed by asking respondents leading questions. The Straz campaign did not provide specific questions to support its findings.

Retired Judge Dick Greco Jr. is polling third in the seven-way race to succeed Bob Buckhorn. He raised $22,000 in the second half of January, bringing his total fundraising to $41,500 after entering the race late last month.

Most of Greco’s contributions came from local attorneys and law firms.

Greco spent $12,000, most of which went to BullsEye Public Affairs for direct mail.

Harry Cohen, who landed at fourth in the latest St. Pete Polls survey, posted his second most lucrative reporting period since launching his campaign in April. He raised $21,000 bringing his total campaign haul to $155,000.

Cohen has about $45,000 left in his campaign fund. Cohen spent just $2,400 during the most recent campaign finance reporting period.

Turanchik has a little less than $50,000 left in his campaign coffers after spending $40,000 in late January. That includes $33,000 to Snyder Pickerill in Chicago for ad placements.

Mike Suarez and Topher Morrison round out the race for mayor. Suarez raised $19,000 and Morrison just $4,000 during the second half of January.

Suarez posted some high profile contributions from developer Larry Feldman, restaurateur Richard Gonzmart and consultant Beth Leytham, who each kicked in $1,000. Leythem also donated $1,000 to Castor’s campaign.

Morrison’s contributions came mostly from local individuals and small business proprietors.

The latest fundraising numbers don’t reflect money collected in campaign committees, which are reported separately.

Candidates have less than one month left before the March 5 election. The top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff April 23 if no candidate receives more than half the vote.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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