Pat Gerard maintains narrow fundraising lead over challenger Brian Scott

Republicans are hoping to flip the seat from Democratic control.

Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard is neck-and-neck with challenger Brian Scott in fundraising as the two battle for the District 2 Commission seat Gerard has held since 2014.

Gerard’s campaign collected $29,280 in October. Scott raised $22,650 between his campaign and affiliated political committee, Friends of Brian Scott.

The candidates’ hauls in October, however, narrows the incumbent’s lead — Gerard has raised $64,320 since launching her reelection bid in September, and Scott has raised $62,770 between his two funding sources since starting in August.

Gerard reported 129 donors in the last month, including five $1,000 donations. The incumbent received $1,000 donations from the Tampa Bay Rays and Ronald Book, PA, the firm led by top lobbyist Ron Book, who himself gave $500 to Gerard’s campaign. St. Petersburg City Council member Gina Driscoll‘s affiliated political committee, Friends of Gina Driscoll, donated $250 to Gerard’s campaign.

Gerard’s campaign spent $4,766 in October, primarily on campaign consulting services, and the remainder on processing fees.

Scott’s campaign raised $18,650 for his official account from 41 donors, including 12 $1,000 contributions from businesses such as Venture Tours, Inc., Donald Storer Transportation, United Motorcoach Association and a handful of transportation executives.

His affiliated political committee raised $4,000 in October, its first month, from two contributors that each gave $2,000 — Scott’s company — Escot Bus Lines LLC — and BP Realty Holdings LLC.

“Our campaign has got off to an amazing start and I am immensely thankful to each and every supporter who has helped us get this far,” Scott said in a statement. “We can never take our freedoms and our way of life for granted, and I look forward to fighting on the County Commission to protect our conservative values in Pinellas County and preserve the things which make our community extraordinary.”

Similar to Gerard, Scott’s campaign spent $4,525 in October, with $2,000 going to financial consulting and the remainder on processing fees and printing charges.

Scott’s political committee did not report any expenditures in October.

A third candidate in the race, Debbie Buschman, reported raising $2,010 in October, bringing her total to $12,275 since entering the race in July.

Scott, who works as president of Escot Bus Lines, and fellow Republican Buschman, the Lunch Pal coordinator for Pinellas County Schools, are trying to flip Gerard’s seat red.

District 2 is an at-large seat covering northwest Pinellas County. Voters countywide can cast a ballot for the race in the General Election.

For years, the GOP has been eying the district to retake after Gerard flipped the seat blue in 2014, replacing former Commissioner Norm Roche. Roche lost the Republican Primary that year to now Sen. Ed Hooper, who lost to Gerard in the General Election.

The district has a Republican advantage with 87,934 Republican voters to 73,454 Democrats. But there are nearly 66,000 no-party affiliated voters, making it a key swing district.

The race will appear on the 2022 ballot. If no Democrat files to challenge Gerard, she will face the winner of the GOP Primary next November.

This article has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Norm Roche. 

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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