Since 2014, Republicans have been looking to retake the District 2 seat on the Pinellas County Commission after Democrat Pat Gerard flipped it blue.
This year, they may have a chance.
Republican challenger Brian Scott is on a mission to unseat Gerard. If Scott proves successful, the County Commission will shift to a Republican majority, with Democrats currently clutching onto power in a 4-3 hold.
But the battle will be a tough one. After all, Gerard successfully flipped the seat in 2014, replacing former Commissioner Norm Roche and maintaining her seat with ease since. She’s also well-known in Pinellas — prior to her service on the County Commission, she was the Mayor of Largo. She also has strong support from local officials.
As for Scott, he was the victor of District 2’s Republican Primary, collecting 66% of the vote to opponent Debbie Buschman’s 34%. He’s proven himself not only a credible candidate but also a competitive fundraiser.
The two have been neck-and-neck throughout the race in fundraising, with one occasionally surpassing the other, only for them to come back on top.
Less than two weeks out from Election Day, Gerard appears to have the upper hand, even if by only a sliver. Gerard has amassed $357,065 between her campaign and affiliated political committee, Friends of Pat Gerard. Scott, who works as president of Escot Bus Lines, has collected $353,288 between his campaign and affiliated political committee, Friends of Brian Scott.
While Scott is narrowly ousted by Gerard in fundraising, he has a voter registration advantage of just under 10,000 Republican voters. District 2 is an at large seat covering northwest Pinellas County, but it is voted on countywide. One week out from the election, the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office reports 248,022 registered Republicans, 237,818 registered Democrats and another 211,638 nonpartisan or third-party voters.
Polls have also shown varying results. One poll commissioned by Scott’s campaign and conducted in mid-August found the pair tied at 42% apiece, with 16% of voters remaining undecided. Another commissioned by Gerard’s campaign reported the incumbent taking 51% of the vote to Scott’s 45%, with 4% undecided.
Ultimately, whoever takes the seat will likely be in for a narrow margin of victory on Nov. 8.