Robert Blackmon spent least per vote among top mayoral candidates

Blackmon spent less per vote than opponent Ken Welch, and a lot less than Darden Rice.

Robert Blackmon proved to have the most bang for his buck Tuesday night after securing a spot on the Nov. 2 General Election ballot for St. Petersburg Mayor, spending about $3 less per vote than his opponent Ken Welch.

The two ousted six other candidates in Tuesday’s Primary Election.

Blackmon spent about $15 per vote in his favor after dishing out a total of $229,467 between his campaign and political committee, Prosperous St. Pete. His spending focused on political consulting services,  media and mailer advertising.

Welch, on the other hand, spent about $18 per vote between his campaign and his affiliated political committee, Pelican PAC. Welch spent $402,173 leading up to the Primary Election, directing his funds to services like financial and communications consulting, polling and print marketing.

Florida Politics is using the candidates’ finance numbers from the latest available campaign reports, which covered through Aug. 19, and the most recent committee reports available, which covered through July 30.

Welch, a former Pinellas County Commissioner, won the race, earning 39% of the vote, or 21,812 votes. Blackmon, a City Council member, took 28%, or 15,639 votes.

City Council member Darden Rice, who finished third in the Primary Election, had a substantially higher spend per vote than both the top two candidates. She dished out about $77 per vote she received. That number comes after Rice spent $704,907 throughout her candidacy between her campaign and political committee, Friends of Darden Rice. Rice garnered 9,180 votes, or about 17% of the vote.

While Blackmon had a late start in the Primary game, entering in late-May, he’ll have a fresh start against Welch. The two are starting the General Election race on an almost even playing field.

Welch, who launched his campaign in mid-January, will enter the run-off with about $85,926 cash on hand between his campaign and PC, while Blackmon will start with $80,138 in available spending money between his funding sources.

Despite Blackmon’s efficient use of campaign funds in the Primary, the Republican candidate may still face an uphill battle in a municipality that has a Democratic edge. And, though the race is nonpartisan it has — much like four years ago — taken on a partisan tone.

The city comprises 88,279 Democrats, 49,544 Republicans and about 51,536 third party or non-affiliated voters, according to the most recent book closing report from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections.

The most recent survey from St. Pete Polls showed Welch not only in the top spot in the Primary but leading either Rice or Blackmon in hypothetical General Election matchups. There, he leads Blackmon with 53% support to 29%.

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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