Read Online

Florida Politics

The 2 are evenly matched in campaign coffers, but Scherer has a political committee giving him a boost.

Chris Scherer, the Republican running for Pinellas County Commission in District 1, has raised more than $155,000 for his bid, between his official campaign account and affiliated political committee, Friends of Chris Scherer.

Scherer’s fourth quarter financials, filed with the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office for his campaign account and with the Division of Elections for his committee, show he raised nearly $24,000 in the final three months of 2023, including more than $15,000 for his campaign and more than $8,000 for his committee.

“Pinellas residents continue to send the clear message that voters are ready for a leader that won’t back down on the County Commission in the fight to clean up our water, protect our freedoms and make our homes affordable again,” Scherer said in a statement. “I’m humbled by the continued support of our community and look forward to continuing our hard work on the campaign trail.”

Scherer, a Republican, is running to replace incumbent Democratic County Commissioner Janet Long, who is not seeking re-election. He faces Democrat Cookie Kennedy.

Kennedy has matched Scherer’s campaign fundraising — both have raised about $84,000 — but she doesn’t have an affiliated committee also bringing in funds.

And of the equally matched campaign coffers, Kennedy has spent more. She retains about $55,000 in her account, while Scherer has about $64,000.

Kennedy actually outraised Scherer in the fourth quarter when looking at just campaign activity — with nearly $21,000 brought in. And her finance activity suggests a more robust grassroots approach to the race, with the average contribution in the fourth quarter coming in at just under $181.

Scherer’s average contribution to his campaign account, meanwhile, was about $358. He took in just 43 contributions over the three-month period, while Kennedy collected 116 checks.

But Scherer’s committee is putting him way ahead in the money race. Of the more than $70,000 raised as of the end of December, Scherer maintains about $62,000.

He brought in eight contributions to his PC in the fourth quarter, including a $3,500 check from St. Pete real estate magnate Bill Edwards, a prominent local Republican, and $2,500 from St. Pete-based lawyer James HoltonAlen Tomczak and Patrick O’Hara each contributed $1,000.

Notable contributors to his campaign include Brian Scott, a would-be colleague on the Pinellas County Commission should Scherer win election, who contributed $250. The Florida Values Coalition committee, which is affiliated with Republican Rep. Berny Jacques, kicked in $500. The political arm for the Florida Apartment Association, Apartment Political Action Committee, contributed $500.

Kennedy took in some notable contributions, too, including $1,000 from Ruth’s List, which works to elect Democratic women. Whitney Fox, the former Communications Director for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority who is currently running as a Democrat for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, kicked in $100. Linda Lerner, a former Pinellas County School Board member who has remained active in Democratic politics, also contributed $100.

Richard Long, the husband of incumbent Janet Long, donated $500 to Kennedy.

A local firefighter committee donated $1,000, a notable nod considering such committees often back Republican candidates, though certainly not always.

Long’s departure from her position sets up an open race for a countywide seat Republicans have long eyed for a flip.

Republicans recently flipped the political makeup of the Pinellas County Commission in the 2022 Midterms and are looking to grow that advantage with a Scherer victory this year.

They’re also eyeing Charlie Justice’s seat, with a bid by Republican Vincent Nowicki to unseat the longtime Democratic Commissioner.