Darden Rice outraises Ken Welch in second month of campaign

Rice maintains more than $100K more on hand than Welch.

St. Petersburg City Council member Darden Rice continues to dominate fundraising in the city’s contested mayoral race.

Rice narrowly outraised former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch in the candidates’ most recent finance disclosure, which covers the month of February.

Between their respective campaign’s and political committees, Rice collected $49,112 while Welch brought in $44,950.

Rice’s campaign raised $38,237 in February, bringing her campaign’s total fundraising to $106,461 since its launch in January.

Her campaign saw about 150 donors, primarily made up of individuals and about a dozen businesses. Several organizations dropped $1,000 on Rice’s campaign, including Ruth’s List Florida, Stepp’s Towing Service and Ybor City Holdings.

Rice’s associated PAC, “Friends of Darden Rice,“ collected $10,875 in February. New York city billionaire developer John Catsimatidis donated $5,000 to the PAC, and real estate mogul Robert Glaser contributed $1,000. Catsimatidis also donated $1,000 to Rice’s campaign. He owns Red Apple, which is currently involved in plans to build a 46-story luxury residential tower in downtown St. Pete. Catsimatidis matched those donations with checks to Welch’s campaign and affiliated political committee.

The current City Council member’s campaign also had a big spending month, dishing out $44,031. The campaign spent about $22,000 on consulting services, $13,400 on advertising, $2,875 on research, $2,791 on walk cards and $1,225 on photography.

Rice’s PAC also made significant expenditures, totaling $16,533 in the month of February. About $12,000 was spent on consulting services, and $4,250 was spent on research.

After a month of big spending, Rice is left with about $258,231 cash on hand between her campaign and associated PAC.

Welch’s campaign raised $30,325 in February, bringing his total campaign fundraising to $58,925 since his campaign launched.

Welch’s campaign saw about 90 donors with a similar makeup to Rice’s, mostly consisting of individuals and about a dozen organizations. Welch received $1,000 donations from Bay Area Metro, Blue Sky Communities, Ethos Development and Marina At Marina Bay Development. Hie campaign also received a $250 donation from the political committee Eric Lynn for Congress.

Welch’s associated PAC brought in $14,625 in February.

Welch maintained tight pursestrings in February, only dishing out $825 from his campaign for processing fees, and another $5,740 from his PAC primarily for finance consulting.

The controlled spending leaves Welch with about $146,950 cash on hand between his two funding sources.

Rice’s funding advantage comes largely thanks to time. Rice started fundraising more than two years ago while Welch didn’t launch his political committee until late 2019, giving him just over a year of fundraising on the books.

Rice’s former colleague and former state Rep. Wengay Newton, who is also running, reported a weak fundraising month, only mustering $335, bringing his campaign’s total fundraising to $2,435 since its start. Newton’s campaign spent $777 on website fees and transportation.

Realtor Vincent Nowicki, who entered the race in late January, raised $7,627 in February from about 25 donors, including checks from Five Bucks Drinkery and Crafty Hospitality for $1,000.

Nowicki spent $1,897 on printing and processing fees.

St. Pete College student Michael Ingram did not post any financial activity in February. Since the start of his campaign, he has raised $1,611 and has spent $1,022. Candidate Marcile Powers, who filed to run on Feb. 1, did not turn in a campaign finance report by the March 10 deadline.

The slew of candidates are running to succeed current Mayor Rick Kriseman who is leaving office because of term limits. The municipal Primary Election is Aug. 24. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters will advance to the General Election Nov. 2.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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