Pat Neal, Hugh Culverhouse and their associates among her biggest contributors
With the candidate qualifying period for the 2020 elections having ended on June 12, incumbent Sarasota County Commissioner Nancy Detert of Venice already has a commanding financial lead over her sole opponent, Democrat Cory Hutchinson of North Port, campaign records show.
As of the end of May — having waited until March 11 to file for re-election — Detert had secured $4,510 in monetary donations, and she had spent $193.98, according to the required forms filed with the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office.
Her contributions were nearly double the total Hutchinson had raised through May — $2,345.60 in monetary contributions, along with $10 in in-kind contributions and another $50 he loaned the campaign, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Office records show. His total expenditures through May were $723.02.
For her first commission campaign, in 2016, Detert raised $29,935 with no loans or in-kind contributions, that election’s financial documents note.
Detert figuratively threw her hat in the ring for the District 3 race in 2016 after serving in the Florida House from 1998 until 2006 and then in the Florida Senate for two terms.
Before she sought state office, she served on the Sarasota County School Board from 1988 to 1992, her page on the county website notes.
On his campaign website, Hutchinson describes himself as a lifelong county resident.
“My fiance and I now own a home in North Port. I’m dedicated to this community and all that it can be,” he says on the website. “I’m passionate about helping people, and doing the best I can each and every day to make the world a better place. My goal is to ‘Re-Imagine Government.’ This means that I want government to operate the way it was designed. Government is supposed to be of, by, and for the people. I intend to represent you, and only you- not any special interests,” Hutchinson adds.
He also notes on that website that he is 23. His is a college and career adviser at Laurel Nokomis School, and he serves as chair of the North Port Charter Review Advisory Board.
Hutchinson filed for the District 3 seat on June 25, 2019.
Details in the documents
Detert’s 2020 campaign finance records show no income until April. Then, that month, she reported a total of $300, with no expenses paid.
The Firefighters & Paramedics for Public Safety Political Action Committee (PAC) gave Detert $200 in April, and she received contributions of $50 each from two individuals, Mervin Kennell, whose occupation is listed as “Firefighter,” and Jennie Kennell. No addresses were provided.
However, the Florida Division of Elections website says Marvin Kennell of Sarasota is the registered agent for the PAC, which has a Venice address.
State records show the PAC also contributed to Detert’s campaigns in 2007, 2008, 2013 and 2015.
Her May report for the County Commission race lists a total of 22 contributions. Among them, she received $200 from Pat Neal, the former state senator. As president and CEO of Neal Communities, he has appeared before the commission on a number of occasions during her term on issues related to the development of Sarasota 2050 residential communities east of Interstate 75.
Seven other contributions on Detert’s May form are from real estate companies, each of which gave her campaign $200. Among those are Quorn Hounds of Sarasota, SRH Hunt of Sarasota and Wynnstay Hunt of Sarasota; the principal listed in Florida Division of Corporations records for all three is Hugh Culverhouse, the developer of Palmer Ranch.
The list also includes Manatee Management LTD, Border & Jacaranda Holdings LLC, Pamlico Point Management LLC, and Saber Bay Properties LLC — all of 5800 Lakewood Ranch Blvd. N. in Lakewood Ranch, which is the same address as that provided for Pat Neal.
James R. Schier is named as the manager of those companies in Florida Division of Corporations records. Neal Communities’ website says Schier is senior vice president of finance for the company.
Detert also received $200 each from her colleague, Commissioner Alan Maio, and Maio’s wife, Nancy, as well as $200 from Bitner & Associates of Monticello, which is a government consulting firm, the finance form says. That firm was founded by the late David Bitner, a former chair of the Florida Republican Party.
Detert’s biggest expense in her May report was $133.58, which went to Deluxe Checks of St. Paul, Minn., for checking supplies. She also spent $59.70 on finance software, the form notes.
In his February report — the first in which he reported a total higher than $170 — Hutchinson listed contributions ranging from $10 on up to $200, which is the maximum. In fact, of the 11 listed, nine of them were between $10 and $100. Only two people gave Hutchinson $200 — Kindra Muntz, who led the Single-Member Districts Charter amendment campaign in 2018 as president of the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE), and North Port attorney James D. Gordon.
In February, Hutchinson’s contributions added up to $865; his total as of that point was $1,175.20.
His biggest expenditure that month was $65.99 for campaign cards, which he purchased from Vistaprint in The Netherlands. He also spent $15 on Facebook ads.
In his May report, Hutchinson listed 19 contributions ranging from $5 to $200. Of those, 17 came from people who were identified as retirees. All but three of the contributors listed South County addresses — in Venice, North Port and Englewood. Eleven of those were in Venice.
That report also noted expenses totaling $398.87. The largest one — $280 — went to Point Blank Political LLC in Casselberry for “Texting.” On its website, the firm includes “Peer-to-Peer Texting” among its services.
Hutchinson paid another $103.17 to Facebook in May for ad boosts, the form said.