Return on investment? Copley Gerdes, Bobbie Shay Lee spend nearly same amount per vote

Gerdes, Lee
Gerdes took the District 1 seat Tuesday night, spending about $2.58 per vote.

St. Petersburg City Council-elect Copley Gerdes spent just $0.13 more per vote than former opponent Bobbie Shay Lee campaigning for the District 1 seat.

Gerdes, who won the seat Tuesday night against Lee with 54% of the vote, dished out $2.58 per vote. Lee, on the other hand, spent $2.45 per vote and pulled 46%.

Florida Politics calculated the price per vote using the candidates’ final campaign finance reports, including the total spending since the start of each campaign. That number is then divided by the number of votes each candidate received.

Gerdes spent nearly $15,000 more than Lee overall, which seemed to benefit him in return on investment. The financial planner spent a total of $84,215 since launching his campaign and earned 32,697 votes Tuesday night, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office results.

Lee dished out $69,152 total and received 28,202 votes.

Both candidates finished the race with roughly $5,000 left in their campaign accounts, Gerdes, who raised a total of $88,845, was left with $4,630 and Lee, who raised $74,285, has $5,133 remaining.

According to the Florida Election Code, leftover funds in the campaign accounts must be disposed of within 90 days after a winner is declared. Campaigns can dispose of the funds by donating them to a nonprofit, giving up to $25,000 to their associated political Party, or reimbursing contributors pro rata.

Gerdes will replace City Council member Robert Blackmon, who resigned from the District 1 seat to run for Mayor.

The election results are a staunch departure from the August Primary Election, where Gerdes and Lee finished virtually tied at 34% of the vote each.

The contrast in outcome is likely due to shifting election dynamics. The August Primary was open only to voters within District 1, while the General Election was open citywide. District 1 is one of only two City Council districts with a Republican majority in voter registration, albeit only slightly.

Gerdes, a financial planner, currently serves on the board for the Police Athletic League, where he frequently works with individuals on both sides of the aisle. He earned support from six of the eight sitting Council members, including four he’ll serve with from the dais.

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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