St. Petersburg City Council member Steve Kornell endorsed Ed Montanari for reelection, Montanari’s campaign announced Tuesday.
Kornell’s endorsement is the fifth from Montanari’s fellow board members so far.
Only Darden Rice and Gina Driscoll have yet to endorse Montanari, though neither has endorsed an opponent either.
Montanari is facing two challengers in the Aug. 27 primary. Those are Democrat Orlando Acosta and independent Zach Collins. Both entered the race in the final week of qualifying for the race. Montanari had appeared poised to be reelected without opposition before that.
So far, the race has lacked any substantive competition. Neither Acosta nor Collins have raised much money. Latest reports show both with less than $100 cash on hand. Meanwhile, Montanari has raised more than $63,000.
However, Acosta has hired Blue Ticket Consulting to manage his campaign. The Democratic consulting company is an aggressive local political strategy group that’s managed or worked on successful campaigns including for Wheeler-Bowman and Mayor Rick Kriseman, among others.
While Acosta has not yet posted substantial fundraising numbers, it’s likely the next report, due later this month, will show an uptick in success.
Still, Montanari has an advantage as the incumbent and his wide support from the existing council is an added boost.
While Montanari is the only Republican on City Council, he’s earned respect from his Democratic colleagues for his thoughtful pragmatism on the dais. Montanari boasts his ability to serve as a consensus builder on the board, bringing conservative perspectives to the dais without serving as an overly partisan elected official on what’s technically a non-partisan body.
Montanari serves District 3, which includes northeast St. Pete. He was first elected in 2015 without opposition. The top two vote-getters in the August primary will move on to the November 5 general election.
Montanari’s district is one of four on the ballot this year. Wheeler-Bowman is also seeking re-election. Districts 1 and 5, currently held by Gerdes and Kornell, are open seats. Both incumbents are leaving office due to term limits.