Darden Rice maintains campaign fundraising lead, rakes in $76K in March

DardenRice_Ken Welch
Former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch trails behind.

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

Close behind Rice is former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, who trails her in the candidates’ most recent finance disclosure, which covers the month of March.

In March, Rice raised $76,217 between her campaign and her associated political committee, Friends of Darden Rice. Welch raised $66,238 in the same timeframe between his campaign and his Pelican PAC.

Rice’s campaign account raked in $43,192 this past month, made up of donations from just under 150 individuals and about 20 businesses. Her campaign saw about two dozen $1,000 donations from donors like Building a Better Florida PAC, American Investment Holdings LLC and Corcoran Partners, a lobbying firm, as well as both Michael Corcoran and Jessica Corcoran. Orange County Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani also donated $250 to Rice’s campaign last month.

The City Council member’s associated PAC raised $33,025 last month from 11 contributors. Hernando Land LLC and Pasco Land LLC each donated $5,000 to the PAC in March.

Businesses associated with Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeffery Vinik, including JV Hockey Ventures LLC, American Investment Holdings LLC and Jeffery Vinik sole proprietorship, also gave $5,000 to Rice’s PAC. Vinik matched those donations with checks to Welch’s campaign and affiliated political committee.

Rice has not shied away from spending, either.

The candidate saw $31,696 in expenditures between funding sources in the latest finance reports. Rice’s campaign account dished out $23,963 and her PAC spent $7,734, each primarily on consulting services.

Between her campaign and PAC, she has raised a total of $447,248 and spent $144,498. After expenditures, Rice is left with $302,750 on hand.

Unlike Rice, Welch has limited his spending so far in the race.

In the month of March, Welch’s campaign collected $30,703 and his associated PAC raked in $35,625. Welch’s campaign account recorded about 80 donors, including about a dozen businesses. His campaign received about 20 $1,000 donations from sources such as pharmaceutical entrepreneur Rodolfo Ciccarello, founder of the unfinished Museum of American Arts and Crafts MovementEzra Singer and Associates, 31 Burlington LTD and Vetted Security Solutions.

Welch’s Pelican PAC collected from 11 contributors. Donors include real estate mogul Robert Glaser, investor Scott Wagman, who also gave to Welch’s campaign, and Porter Development’s Les Porter — each gave $5,000.

Welch has been more reserved with spending. Between his two funding sources, the former County Commissioner spent $8,575 in March. His campaign account only dished out $1,889 on credit card processing fees and campaign marketing items, and the PAC spent $6,686 primarily on financial consulting services.

Welch is left with $217,953 cash on hand after his March finance reports between his committee and campaign, bringing him closer to Rice, but still behind.

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.

Following Rice and Welch in fundraising is Realtor Vincent Nowicki, who entered the race in late January. He raised $8,379 in March from about 50 donors. Nowicki spent $4,672 this period, on printing and marketing. The candidate, who has raised $16,007 so far, is left with about $9,408 cash on hand.

Rice’s former colleague and former state Rep. Wengay Newton, who is also running, reported a stronger fundraising month than the month prior, mustering $6,485, bringing his campaign’s total fundraising to $8,920 since its start. Newton’s campaign spent $576 on website fees, and he is currently left with about $7,537 cash on hand, a dismal amount for a candidate perceived to be among the top tier.

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, reported receiving $29 from in-kind contributions, but no spending.

The slew of candidates are running to succeed current Mayor Rick Kriseman who is leaving office due to 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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