Tampa City Council member Charlie Miranda, as he often does, waited until close to the last minute to file for re-election. On Jan. 5, he threw his name in the hat for District 6, a departure from his current District 2 for which he is facing term limits.
The same day, he cut his campaign a check for $40,000, enough to make him the best-funded candidate in the five-person race.
After that, he raised just $9,360 through Feb. 3, from just 16 individuals or entities.
Miranda’s check — paired with the massive name recognition that comes from serving eight terms on City Council, variably since 1974 — means he’ll have the resources to secure another term on City Council.
But it raises questions about whether support might be waning.
Four years ago, seeking a second consecutive term in District 2, Miranda raised nearly $95,000. He dipped into his own pocket then, too, but only to the tune of $25,000. That means he raised nearly $70,000 from other sources, a hefty sum for what are typically low-budget City Council contests.
Then, big names with deep pockets could be found on his campaign finance reports — people like Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister and his wife’s wealthy DeBartolo family, Strategic Property Partners (read: Jeff Vinik), Richard Gonzmart and others. Many of those names are absent this go around, though their names haven’t shown up for the opposition either.
Sources with knowledge of Tampa politics have speculated a lot of supporters would have preferred Miranda hang up his hat, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll turn from Miranda even though he’s seeking four more years.
And even if they do, he’ll still be a behemoth to topple. Look no further than the Tampa Bay Times, whose editorial board recommended Miranda, noting his attention to constituent services.
Miranda’s most likely competition, lawyer Hoyt Prindle, has raised more than $36,000 since entering the race mid-2022. It’s quite a bit less than Miranda, but it’s not self-funded cash, which shows strong buy-in from the community.
Prindle got a bigger mention in the Times’ recommendation than other candidates in the race, and it was all positive even if he didn’t land the actual endorsement.
Prindle is leaning into the idea of fresh leadership for the city, a subtle, but not too subtle, reference to Miranda’s long tenure.
Prindle has already sent out mailers calling for “a new generation of leadership. His website mentions “disorder on the Tampa City Council.”
And Prindle might have something going for him that challengers four years ago lacked — he’s facing Miranda in a single-member district. In the 2019 race, which saw Miranda defeat two challengers in the March election with more than 57% of the vote, candidates were running citywide.
For a newcomer, that means a lot of ground to cover to drum up votes. In a single-member district, Prindle can put his grassroots efforts to work in a smaller area, in this case, West Tampa.
And while it’s never an apples-to-apples comparison, data also suggests some hope for the underdog this year. In 2019, John Godwin, who came in second behind Miranda and raised more than the third-place finisher, spent about $1.78 per vote, which got him to more than 23%.
If Prindle aims for 6,000 votes in the March election, which depending on turnout would get him close to 50% and likely be good enough to force a runoff, his current fundraising puts him at $6 per vote. Four years ago, 6,043 votes would have won the district outright.
By comparison, District 6 incumbent, Guido Maniscalco, paid about $9.50 per vote when he won the district with more than 61% of the vote four years ago against a sole challenger.
The bottom line is, Miranda is a Tampa institution who definitely has the advantage. But political winds mean Prindle may have a better shot at tackling the challenge ahead than those before.
The question may boil down to a simple one: Will voters agree Tampa is ready for a new generation of leadership?
February 13, 2023 at 11:52 pm
Hoyt Prindle may have raise more money but he also has to spend to build name recognition. Not to say I will make it to the run-off but my name recognition in this race in the district is 2nd to Miranda. When a third of the district knows my name, I am banking it off-sets the 20K that Hoyt has raised and I means Charlie my actually have to campaign. The name recognition has been that has been bolstered by myself and 20+ volunteers that have walked out almost 6,000 door hangers across portions of 19 precincts–especially South Tampa and West Tampa. It doesn’t show up in the media or the bank account. But it does show up in website traffic spikes and social media spikes.
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