Jouniari’s campaign contributions a fraction of Ziegler’s in District 2 County Commission race

Republican Ziegler had raised almost $24,000 by early April, compared to almost $1,300 for Jouniari

Rita Jouniari. Image from her campaign website

Since she filed for the District 2 seat on the Sarasota County Commission, Democrat Ruta Maria Jouniari of Sarasota has been able to raise only about 5.5% of the money that her Republican opponent, Christian Ziegler of Sarasota, has raised, the latest campaign finance reports show.

A third candidate in the race, Republican Alexandra Coe of Sarasota, has not brought in any contributions since she put her name in the figurative hat for the District 2 seat on Jan. 24, according to state campaign finance records The Sarasota News Leader reviewed this week.

Ziegler, who filed for the race on Jan. 22 — after Republican Commissioner Paul Caragiulo announced that he would not seek re-election — had raised a total of $23,609.96 in monetary contributions as of his April 9 campaign finance report, the records say. He had received 167 contributions.

He reported another $400 in in-kind contributions in April.

Ziegler had spent only $2,199.97, according to the April records.

Jouniari had received $1,290 from a total of 27 contributions, her April 6 campaign finance report shows. She had spent $419.63.

Jouniari gave $100 to her campaign, documents show, and she provided another $80 in in-kind contributions for the boosts on Facebook.

Most of her expenditures have been for office supplies and business cards, the records say.

When Jouniari ran earlier this year for the Florida House 72 seat from which Republican Rep. Alex Miller of Sarasota resigned late last summer, Jouniari raised $24,804.80 in monetary contributions and spent $24,663.29. She also had $672 in in-kind contributions, according to documents filed with the state’s Division of Elections.

Democrat Margaret Good of Siesta Key won that race, which included Republican James Buchanan.

Christian Ziegler. Image from his campaign website

The first contributor to Ziegler’s campaign was Caragiulo, who gave Ziegler $200 in January, campaign finance reports show. Then, in February, Ziegler brought in a total of $3,790.36, his records say. Among donors that month were Hugh F. Culverhouse, developer of Palmer Ranch; Palmer Ranch Holdings; and real estate firms McCann Holdings, Quorn Hounds, SRH Hunt and Wynnstay Hunt, all of 6571 Palmer Park Circle in Sarasota. Hugh Culverhouse is the principal director or manager of all of them, state records show.

In March, Ziegler amped up his fundraising, bringing in $19,619.60, his campaign finance report says.

Among his contributors in March were Robert Waechter of Siesta Key, past chair of the Republican Party of Sarasota County; real estate developer Thomas Dabney, managing partner of the Forest at Hi Hat Ranch; Arvida Corporate Park Association of Lakewood Ranch; father and son attorneys Dan Bailey Jr. and Charles D. Bailey III of Sarasota, who have represented many land use petitions before the County Commission; Matt Buchanan — managing partner of Sarasota Ford — and James Buchanan, both sons of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan; state Rep. Jim Boyd of Bradenton and Boyd’s insurance/real estate firm; Sarasota restaurateurs Robert and Mark Caragiulo; former state Sen. Lisa Carlton; Dolphin Aviation; Lori Gabbert, the Gabbert Investment Group, TST Ventures and Gabbert LLC — all associated with businessman James Gabbert (see the related story in this issue); state Rep. Joe Gruters of Sarasota; Holly Dennis Interiors of Sarasota; Huntington National Real Estate Investments in Lakewood Ranch; former Sarasota County Administrator Jim Ley; County Commissioner Alan Maio; Mary Dougherty Slapp, executive director of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange; Robert “Bo” Medred, who has represented a number of developers as president of Genesis Planning and Development in Bradenton; developer Pat Neal; the Thomas Ranch Land Operations real estate development firm in Venice; the West Villages Marketing Association in Venice; and Gold Coast Eagle Distributing of Lakewood Ranch.

Ziegler’s three largest expenditures in his March report — $876.06, $640.13 and $129.81 — were listed as reimbursements to himself for campaign expenses.

In his February report, Ziegler noted only two expenditures: $85.50 to webElect of Bradenton for finance software and $156.92 to the St. Paul, Minn., firm Deluxe for checking supplies.

A graphic shows the five County Commission districts. Image courtesy Sarasota County Government

Qualifying for the County Commission races will begin on Monday, June 18, and conclude on Friday, June 22, the Supervisor of Elections Office has announced. If a primary is needed, that will be held on Aug. 28.