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Darden Rice adds $8,000 to eventual mayoral bid

That includes $5,000 from a Miami developer.

St. Petersburg City Council Member Darden Rice is once again adding more than $8,000 to her political committee for an eventual campaign to succeed Mayor Rick Kriseman.

Reported Monday by the Florida Division of Elections, Rice’s July fundraising numbers show she raised more than $72,000 since her committee, Friends of Darden Rice, launched in January.

It wasn’t Rice’s most productive month, but it’s not the least, either.

Rice raised more than $16,000 in March and May and about $11,000 in January and April. Rice’s slowest months were in February and June when she raised $3,625 and $6,200, respectively. 

Rice has spent a little more than $4,500 so far, mostly on consulting services from Blue Ticket Consulting. One of that firm’s partners, Meagan Salisbury, is managing Rice’s committee.

Reports show Rice continues to get support from both local and out-of-town developers. Her July fundraising total includes a $5,000 contribution from Joseph Furst.

Furst is affiliated with several development groups including Tricera, which acquired several properties in recent years in the Grand Central, Edge and Central Arts districts in St. Pete.

Previously, Rice’s committee received contributions of more than $1,000 each from other developers including John Catsimatidis who owns Red Apple Group, Peter Leach of Southport Financial Services, Blue Sky Communities and Eastman Equity Holdings.

But Rice has also taken in significant funds from local residents. In July, her committee raised $1,500 from Anne Glover, a local Realtor, as well as $500 from artist Duncan McClellan, $250 each from local startup owner Matt Walker, Dr. Susan Betzer and “Preserve the ‘Burg” leader Peter Belmont. St. Pete resident Paul Chenneville donated $200 and St. Pete Arts Alliance member John Collins kicked in $100. 

Rice hasn’t officially started campaigning yet, and her candidacy isn’t official. The next mayoral election isn’t until 2021.

Rice, who is currently serving her second and final term on City Council, could face any number of challenges, including from Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch who earlier confirmed he would run. Other rumored potential candidates include Sen. Jeff Brandes and former Mayor Rick Baker

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 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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