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Ruth’s List Florida backs Ella Coffee for Tampa City Council

The endorsement likely comes with valuable fundraising opportunities.

Ruth’s List Florida is endorsing Ella Coffee for Tampa City Council District 5, her campaign announced Wednesday.

Ruth’s List Florida is the state’s only resource dedicated to recruiting and helping Democratic women candidates get elected. The group praised Coffee for standing up for Florida women and families.

“Ella is a longtime community organizer and civic leader who has proven herself one of Florida’s most able grassroots advocates for safer, stronger, and healthier communities,” said Pamela Goodman, Ruth’s List Florida President and CEO. “The Ruth’s List community — now tens of thousands of members strong — is excited to support her candidacy.”

Coffee is the only woman running in District 5, which represents downtown and East Tampa.

The endorsement likely will come with new fundraising opportunities. In the last half of 2018, the group shelled out more than $278,000, mostly for phone banking for various candidates.

“I am grateful to the grassroots aid Ruth’s List Florida provides Democratic women in Florida,” Ella said. “Ruth’s List understands as well as anyone how critical it is that we organize at the local level and promote change from the ground up. I’m honored to accept this endorsement and encouraged that Ruth’s List and their membership are confident in me to fight for better access to transportation, affordable housing, and health care for all citizens.”

It’s a needed boost for Coffee’s campaign. 

In the five-way race, Coffee is second to last in raising funds. As of January 18, she brought in just under $10,000. Orlando Gudes, a retired police officer in the race, has raised more than $45,000 while Jeffrey Rhodes and Ralph Smith have both raised about $18,000. Only T.C. Cole has raised less.

Coffee’s not worried about the funding gap. She comes to the race with some unique challenges including a winter campaigning hiatus as she finished up breast cancer treatment and underwent surgery — all of which came back with the best possible results. She’s cancer free.

In a previous interview with Florida Politics, Coffee beamed pride for her nearly lifelong involvement in politics and her grassroots campaigning experience, which she said gives her a leg up on reaching the finish line.

As for her cancer battle, that, she said, shows she’s a fighter.

The winner of this race will replace term-limited Frank Reddick.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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