In less than 24 hours, polls will open in Dade City, St. Leo and Zephyrhills to decide three local government races. And it’s not clear if any last-minute campaigning by any of the candidates may matter.
Mail-in ballots already represent an average 7 percent turnout in all three municipalities. St. Leo is leading all the cities and towns in Pasco County with a 17 percent turnout by mail so far with 50 of a possible 286 votes already registered as of late Sunday, according to the Pasco County elections office.
Zephyrhills, where Alan Knight is challenging Councilwoman Jodi Wilkeson, nearly 540 votes have already been mailed in, more than half the total of ballots cast in the 2013 election, where Kenneth Compton and Lance Smith retained their seats.
Dade City has had 240 ballots cast leading up to the final days before the election between Scott Black and Angelica Herrera, a little less than half of the total turnout the last time Dade City had an election in 2012 when Jim Shive and Bill Dennis were victors.
St. Leo, however, still has a long way to go. Unlike Dade City and Zephyrhills, where turnout is well below 20 percent, the most recent elections in 2013 represented a 51 percent turnout, with 157 of a possible 305 ballots cast. Donna DeWitt, however, will need to hope most of those are cast for hers as she caught in a race with Lake Jovita-supporter Raphael Davis.
Black, by far, has raised more money than any other municipal candidate in the county, with just under $10,000 through April 3. He’s out-raised Herrera more than 3-to-1, but has only slightly outspent her. Between March 22 and April 3, Black has raised just over $2,000. However, half of that has come from state Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and marks the only contributions for Black this reporting cycle that came from outside Dade City.
Herrera raised $462.50 during the same time period, bringing her entire campaign war chest to just under $3,100. Herrera provided $100 of that herself, with another $100 coming from Saint Leo University president Arthur Kirk.
Fundraising in Zephyrhills remains neck-and-neck, with Wilkeson holding a slight $275 edge over Knight. Wilkeson raised $325 in the most recent reporting cycle, while Knight finished with $500. However, $200 of Wilkeson’s total came not only outside Zephyrhills, but outside Florida, while Knight picked up $150 from the Ferman family, and a $250 check from a Tallahassee political action committee representing firefighters.
DeWitt has maintained her position that she won’t do any fundraising for her seat, and will use her history and name-power to battle the $695 raised by Davis. His most recent donation came from a $100 cash donation made by Bill Brown of Dade City.
Polls open Tuesday.