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John Dingfelder dominates spending in Tampa City Council races

Dingfelder is the only candidate to exceed six-figures in City Council races in the runoff.

Former Tampa City Council member John Dingfelder continues to lead the charge in fundraising in three City Council races on the ballot next Tuesday.

Dingfelder has raised $167,000 in his bid for the citywide District 3 race to replace outgoing council member Yolie Capin who is leaving office due to term limits.

While $50,000 of that haul came from a personal loan and several thousand from family members, Dingfelder is the only candidate to exceed six-figures in City Council races in the runoff election and one of only three to exceed $100,000 in all seven races on the municipal ballot last month.

Incumbents Charlie Miranda and Luis Viera also blew past that mark.

Dingfelder faces political newcomer Stephen Lytle in the runoff. Lytle has raised just $69,000 so far, according to the most recent campaign finance filings covering March 23 through April 5.

Dingfelder raised $20,000 in the latest reporting period while Lytle brought in just $650.

Much of Dingfelder’s latest haul includes contributions from the legal community. He’s a longtime Tampa attorney. Dingfelder also brought in contributions from Betty Castor and former Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena as well as a top-dollar contributions from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local union.

Lytle’s largest contribution came from Red Star Rock Bar on Florida Avenue, which contributed $300. He also took in $50 from former District 1 candidate David Loos.

Dingfelder has a huge advantage in his race against Lytle. He finished the municipal election with 49 percent of the vote, which is just 1 percentage point away from winning the race outright. Lytle finished with 20 percent.

Joe Citro also appears to have an edge in the citywide District 1 race to replace Mike Suarez. Citro has raised $44,000 to date including $8,000 during the latest reporting period. His opponent, Walter Smith II, has brought in just $11,000 with $1,900 coming in during on latest report.

Citro finished with 31 percent of the vote last month while Smith claimed just 20 percent. However, Smith has momentum on his side. He recently picked up a major endorsement from former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, which could help him capture votes from people who supported other candidates before the runoff.

That’s what happened to Bob Buckhorn in 2011 when he barely came in second during the municipal election and then wound up soundly defeating Rose Ferlita in the runoff.

The East Tampa District 5 race is the closest on paper, but not in fundraising. Jeffrey Rhodes came out on top last month with 30 percent of the vote compared to Orlando Gudes’ 28 percent despite a huge funding disadvantage.

Gudes, a retired Tampa Police officer, has raised $73,000 compared to Rhodes’ $31,000. Gudes collected two top-dollar contributions including one from the Gudes Funeral Home on Hillsborough Avenue, which his family owns.

Rhodes is a funeral home director at Ray Williams. He picked up a notable contribution from the Florida Democratic Party, which donated $250 to his campaign.

All of the candidates have been slow on spending, forking out cash for basics like consulting services and local advertising. This is the last week candidates have to raise funds before next week’s election.

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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